From industry benchmarking to orchard nutrition and pest and disease management, there are a number of important projects currently funded by Hort Innovation using the macadamia R&D levy. Read more in the R&D snapshot below. To see how the industry’s marketing levy has been put to use domestically and in key export markets, check out the marketing snapshot.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The macadamia Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) met for the third time on September 9 in Brisbane. Meeting summaries continue to be available on Hort Innovation’s Macadamia grower page.

The selection process for appointing an independent chair for the SIAP has also recently been completed, with information on the chair to be made available on the grower page shortly.

The Strategic Investment Plan

A Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) is the roadmap that helps ensure levy investment decisions align with individual industry priorities. It is used to guide decision-making in levy spending, and represents a balanced view of stakeholders in the industry.

Hort Innovation is currently consulting with growers and other industry stakeholders to finalise new SIPs for each industry by the end of the calendar year.

To learn more about the SIP process, visit Hort Innovation’s SIP Portal.

Any questions?
As well as the Macadamia grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Corrine Jasper is always available to answer questions on the macadamia program. For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Lead Graeme Yardy.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Determining the extent and causes of abnormal vertical growth (MC15011)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project draws together a team of experienced plant scientists and a network of industry agronomists to update and consolidate research information on the threat of abnormal vertical growth (AVG) in the macadamia industry.

It will look at the current impact of AVG and potential causes of the disorder – including the role of biotic agents in its development and spread – and will provide recommendations for future research required for management, predictors and diagnostics.

What’s the latest update? The project’s work began in May this year. So far, farms in all major growing regions have been surveyed for incidence and severity of AVG, including farms in Baffle Creek, the Bundaberg area, and the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, and Mountain Top, Jiggi, Caniaba, and Hogarth Range in New South Wales.

The researchers report that:

  • AVG was more widespread and severe than in previous surveys
  • Severe AVG symptoms were observed in varieties previously thought to be tolerant or only moderately susceptible to the disorder
  • Irrespective of rootstock, HAES 344 trees were the most susceptible at all sites surveyed
  • AVG status of 13 additional varieties has been determined, with six tentatively classified as tolerant
  • AVG was observed in susceptible trees on various soil types.

Molecular analyses of AVG and non-AVG samples revealed the presence of geminivirus, bacteria and fungi in the samples, and initial observations suggest an interaction between the geminivrus and bacteria in the progression of AVG. Work in this area is being progressed.

 

Benchmarking the macadamia industry 2015-18 (MC15005)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project will build and improve on previous on-farm benchmarking work. By collecting planting, production, quality and other data and analysing trends across the industry, its ultimate goal is to allow informed decision-making and help facilitate improved farm productivity and profitability for macadamia growers and other stakeholders.

What’s the latest update? Data from the 2015 season was finalised earlier this year, with a total of 269 farms participating. This data has now been analysed together with yield, quality and other data dating back to 2009, with the Macadamia industry benchmark report 2009-2015 available to download.

Two productivity case studies have also been produced as videos, to be released to industry shortly. These case studies highlight farm businesses where significant productivity gains have been achieved through investment in soil/tree health and orchard floor management.

 

Review of macadamia orchard nutrition (MC15012)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project is investigating current literature on and approaches to addressing soil health and macadamia nutrition. Its end goal is to improve the quality of soil and plant-nutrition advice for the industry, through the development of guidelines and protocols involving soil sampling, soil analysis, and nutrition timing, amounts and frequency.

What’s the latest update? The project’s review of macadamia orchard nutrition was presented to approximately 100 macadamia industry consultants at the annual consultants’ meeting back in June.

Various topics relating to soil and plant nutrition of macadamias were discussed at length, including soil types, moisture, pH, cation exchange capacity, cation ratios and overall soil health. Organic matter was also discussed, as were macadamia characteristics and root physiology and uptake. Tree nutrition featured heavily, including nutrient mobility, disorder symptoms, nutrient interactions and boron, phosphorus, nitrogen and calcium nutrition. Soil and leaf sampling for analysis, analytical methods, and average nutrient levels across industry were also featured.

 

National macadamia grower communication program (MC15003)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Kicking off at the start of 2016 and following on from previous communications work, one of this project’s main objectives is to share with growers and other stakeholders industry knowledge and R&D and marketing outcomes to drive their adoption, and to ultimately increase orchard productivity and profitability. It also seeks to promote the Australian macadamia industry and its successes.

What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:

  • The macadamia industry website, www.australian-macadamias.org/industry
  • Quarterly Australian Macadamia Society news bulletins, containing key information and outcomes on levy-funded R&D and marketing outcomes
  • Monthly industry e-newsletters
  • A variety of ‘e-blasts’ (short emails) on a range of topics, such as regional updates, MacGroup invites and other urgent information
  • Production and distribution of media releases promoting industry events and activities.

The project also supports the bi-annual Australian Macadamia Industry Conference.


macadamia-maccas-mag-2

The May edition of the Australian Macadamia Society news bulletin


 

Australian macadamia industry innovation and adoption program (MC15004)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning earlier in 2016, this project aims to enhance the adoption of innovation and technology, and facilitate capacity building, in the Australian macadamia industry. It involves the work of a macadamia industry productivity development manager (MIPDM), Robbie Commens.

What’s the latest update? MIPDM activities under this project will include a range of workshops and meetings (including regular grower meetings and an annual consultants’ meeting), the industry’s MacGroups, field days, and the production of communication materials such as videos and content for industry publications. The MIPDM is also responsible for undertaking constant engagement with growers and the wider industry, management of emerging issues, and the identification and development of opportunities for new orchard territory and expansion.

 

Disease management in macadamia industry (MC12007)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in 2012, this project brings together a team with extensive knowledge and contacts to deliver improved, sustainable and efficient disease management strategies for the macadamia industry. It has a broad range of work, from integrated disease management systems for husk spot, to the use of disease-resistant varieties, to investigation of emerging diseases of concern.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016). At the time of last reporting:

  • Weather conditions in the 2015/16 season had been conducive to husk spot development, but reports from growers and industry consultants were that following the guidelines for husk spot control (two fungicide spray applications starting at match-head stage of fruit development and timing of harvest based on kernel maturity) led to no significant yield losses.
  • Research revealed that multiple fungal species belonging to the genus Diaporthe caused Phomopsis husk rot in macadamia. The characteristic soft or spongy black lesions of husk rot symptoms were observed in diseased husks in orchards where significant yield loss did occur.
  • Designs of field trials to manage husk spot were underway.
  • As part of the diagnostic services in the project, samples from growers and industry consultants were received and analysed. The majority were branch dieback on twigs and branches. Field observations showed that the disease also caused complete tree death. Members of the fungal family Botryosphaeriaceae were identified from diseased samples.

 

Time of flowering and pollination relevant to orchard weather conditions in Northern NSW – a growers’ trial group (MC12011)

Status: Near-completed project

What’s it all about? The aim of this project is to determine if weather events in the orchard have an effect on the success of pollination at the time of flowering. It uses grower-based trials to gather on-farm data in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales (Newrybar, Knockrow, Rosebank, Alstonville Plateau and Tregeagle).

What’s the latest update? The final report for this project is due to be submitted shortly, and will be summarised in Hortlink when available. At the time of last reporting in Hortlink (Winter 2016), growers’ production data, observations and weather station data was continuing to be collected. The project was also to collect time-lapse photos during flowering across the growers’ orchards. Work on the detailed analysis of the available data had commenced.

 

Biology, species and genetic diversity of macadamia lace bugs (MC13008)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Macadamia lace bug (MLB) has a significant impact on the macadamia industry, but the taxonomy, genetics and ecology of the insect is poorly understood. Established in 2014, this project is investigating key aspects of MLB including lifespan, specific food sources, where they lay their eggs and the like. The project will look at whether out-of-season flowering is driving outbreaks, and how far individuals can disperse. It is also examining the genetics of the insect to determine whether there are ‘cryptic’ species infesting macadamias that may be overlooked.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016). At the time of last reporting, the most significant development had been the collection of two new species of MLB, one from the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, and one from Tasmania. Both of these species were new to science. Specimens of the new Northern Rivers species were found at four different localities, and all were associated with damaged macadamia flowers.

At the time of last reporting, the project had all the required material to begin analysing data.


macadamia-macadamia-lace-bug

Macadamia lace bug


 

Macadamia second generation breeding and conservation (MC14000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2015 (and carrying on from previous breeding work), this project is progressing genetic improvement for the Australia macadamia industry. It is working to produce new cultivars that will provide the industry an advantage over its international competitors.

Specifically, the project is evaluating 3555 seedling progeny already established, and aims to increase the second generation population size by 10,000. Other significant activities of the project relate to the genetic control of husk spot disease and abnormal vertical growth, evaluating alternative breeding strategies, screening rootstocks for tree size control and productivity, and determining suitable pollinisers for elite selections.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016). At the time of last reporting:

  • The researchers had completed harvesting of the three-year-old, second-generation progeny trial at the Bundaberg Research Facility and the five-year-old precocity trial at the Maroochy Research Facility, with assessment commencing.
  • Planning for the next set of grower progeny trials, due for planting in 2017, had begun.
  • A PhD student had been appointed for a study into the application of genomics in macadamia improvement.
  • Two germplasm trial sites were being maintained, and pollinated nuts from selected plants had been harvested and germinated to develop next-generation progenies. In total, 250 seeds from Macadamia jansenii, M. ternifolia and wild hybrid/mixed populations were germinated and are now growing at the Maroochy Research Facility.
  • Rootstock screening continued.

macadamia-progeny-trial

Growers evaluating one of the seedling progeny field trials


 

Other R&D projects of note…

» Biological husk spot research (MC12008)

» Macadamia crop forecasting 2015-18 (MC15009)

» Macadamia regional variety trials series 3 phase 2 (MC11001)

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

The Australian Macadamias marketing program began the new financial year in earnest with the launch of fresh consumer marketing plans both domestically and in the core export markets of Japan, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and China.

The year ahead will see the continuation of the mission to share the multi-layered macadamia story with as many consumers as possible, in ever more innovative and exciting ways, while supporting the marketing activities of key trade partners.

The August to October period has delivered a host of highlights…

 

Social media bootcamp

In early September, Australian Macadamias hosted its inaugural social media bootcamp, bringing together marketing agency delegates from six countries for an intensive three-day ‘paddock-to-plate’ macadamia immersion.

Led by the Australian marketing team, the program was action-packed and showed agency staff in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China and Germany every aspect of the macadamia industry in the Byron Bay growing region. Highlights included high tea in a macadamia orchard, a half-day content pillars workshop, macadamia farmer ‘speed dating’ and a food photography and styling workshop.

The innovative event was created to significantly improve the quality and consistency of messaging across all core markets. The knowledge shared will also form the basis of the upcoming Australian Macadamias Social Media Playbook that will guide the ongoing creation and curation of social media content to promote Australian-grown macadamias to consumers globally.

The bootcamp cultivated a significantly deeper understanding of the product and industry among those who are representing the Australian Macadamias brand in core markets. This will ultimately deliver a more compelling story to consumers to drive awareness and demand for Australian-grown macadamias. The event also attracted impressive media coverage, with national TV coverage on the ABC’s Landline, plus ABC Radio coverage and multiple online news pieces.


macadamia-social-media-bootcamp


 

2016 Sample Food Festival

The taste and versatility of Aussie macadamias were on display in early September at the Sample Food Festival, the Northern Rivers’ largest food event. Around 17,000 people flocked to the Bangalow Showground to experience a taste of the best food and wine from northern New South Wales, while enjoying live entertainment and cooking demonstrations.

As part of a commitment to supporting food events in each of the major Australian macadamia growing regions, Australian Macadamias was a proud sponsor of the event for the fifth consecutive year. The sponsorship was leveraged extensively on social media, reaching almost 100,000 people.

By sharing highlights of the event on social media, Australian fans were shown the innovative ways chefs and producers are using macadamias. Twitter and Instagram were used to share live content, while pre- and post event updates were shared on Facebook.

Almost 40kg of fresh macadamias were supplied and featured in six cooking demonstrations and a mystery box challenge on the centre stage, and were included in two dishes at the Friday formal, and seven restaurant tasting plates. An Australian Macadamias cooking demonstration was also staged, led by guest chef Kate Walsh, who showed the crowd how to make macadamia milk and macadamia chocolate spread.

This year a #AusMacadamias Instameet was hosted for the first time at the event, where local Instagrammers were invited to meet with other Instagrammers and guest chefs in person. In addition to driving Instagram activity, this generated some fantastic coverage in local media and blogs.


macadamia-insta


 

Consumer insights: ‘Sharing the Macadamia Moment’

This year the rich cache of data that the Australian Macadamias global Facebook communities represent has been extensively mined in order to create an up-to-the-minute picture of who these fans are and the sentiments and habits that exist among the group.

The third instalment of the Facebook insights infographic series was released in September. Having explored the typical macadamia Facebook fan and their favourite Macadamia Moments, this was taken a step further to discover who they would most like to share their Macadamia Moment with.

The results produced an insightful and diverse international comparison. Australian fans prefer to share their Macadamia Moment with their partner while in Taiwan, it’s their best friend. South Korean fans are most likely to share with their mother, and Japanese and German fans prefer not to share their macadamias at all!

 

Japan and Korea consumer research findings released

Results of the two latest Australian Macadamias research studies were released this quarter, with the 2016 Japan and South Korea consumer benchmarking research unearthing a host of positive findings.

The Japan study revealed that Australian Macadamias brand messaging is continuing to resonate strongly in this important market. Awareness and consumption are both tracking solidly and while macadamia chocolate confectionery products remain perennially popular, consumers are now embracing other forms of macadamia consumption as well. The research also unearthed strong interest in the health and beauty benefits of macadamias, particularly regarding anti-ageing.

The South Korean research shows that awareness, experience and consumption frequency of macadamias have all risen significantly over the past five years and Korean consumers now have a deeper understanding of the features and benefits of macadamias, choosing them as part of a consciously healthy lifestyle.

These studies are critical to tracking attitudes and behaviours of macadamia consumers in these potential-laden markets, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of promotional campaigns. The findings will help to guide future campaigns, highlighting where the biggest gains have been made and where further challenges lie.

 

New Australian Macadamias websites launch

This quarter saw the launch of the new Australian Macadamias trade and consumer websites. The culmination of 12 months planning and development, the new sites have been designed to deliver a more dynamic user experience, integrate better with social media channels and take the brand forward with a powerful new online look.

The centrepiece of the consumer site is a new nut hub where fans can find recipes, discover foodie facts, grower stories, videos and the blog. The trade site, available in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese, makes it easier to access the latest news and reports and also features a new marketing resources section. To see the new digital home of Australian Macadamias, head to www.australian-macadamias.org.


macadamia-new-website


 

Macadamias on the menu: celebrity chef interviews

The Australian Macadamias marketing program has had a long-term focus on engaging with influencers such as leading chefs and foodies. This has led to the formation of valuable relationships with many of these people now passionate advocates for Aussie-grown macadamias.

To leverage these relationships further, a new content series was launched in August, consisting of exclusive interviews with leading chefs to not only discover some of the innovative ways they’re using macadamias, but also to introduce the trade and consumer audiences to the human story behind these celebrated chefs. Interviews with Giovanni Pilu of Pilu at Freshwater and Gavin Hughes of The Byron at Byron Restaurant have recently been released, with more to follow in the coming months.


macadamia-giovanni

Chef Giovanni Pilu


 

Flowering season creates a buzz

With macadamia orchards bursting into flower in late August, the marketing team captured some beautiful new blossoming imagery to share on social media. This content is always well received, but this year went to new heights, with Australian fans in particular engaging enthusiastically when a shot of pink macadamia blossoms was posted on the Australian Macadamias Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AustralianMacadamias/). The post reached 28,000 people, was shared 200 times and generated 1400 reactions. Growing is one of the key social media content pillars and it’s gratifying to see the traction this content is gaining.


macadamia-facebook-flowering-post


GROWER PROFILE

DOMINIQUE MILLS, BANGALOW MACADAMIA CO, NSW

If there’s one thing about growing macadamias that never fails to impress Dominique Mills, it’s how responsive her industry is to new ideas and just how quickly things can change.

Not too long ago, Dominique and her husband, Craig, swapped their careers in the corporate world for a life growing macadamias in Byron Bay’s hinterland. “In just the three short years we’ve been in the industry, it’s amazing how much has changed,” Dominique said. “We can’t forget that the industry in Australia is relatively new compared to others, so whether you’re a new grower or an experienced one, there’s still so much to learn. I don’t think you can ever sit back and think, ‘I know everything now, I don’t have to worry’.”

One of the most surprising changes for Dominique and Craig has been to the layout of their orchard.

“We did buy a farm that needed a lot of work, which meant we were able to make a difference right from the first day. But when we first bought the farm we never imagined that we’d be taking trees out,” Dominique said.

“Our farm had 10-metre rows, and at the time all the research we did and the people we spoke to pointed towards this being the ant’s pants. But in this industry you’re always discovering new things, and what we’ve now realised is that 10-metre rows aren’t big enough when you have older trees. So in some areas of the orchard we’ve decided to take out full rows and end up with 20-metre rows.”

And in other areas of the orchard, something quite different is happening. “We’re taking out entire sections, three or four acres at a time, and replanting with new trees, the newest varieties available that we know will give us a very good tonnage,” Dominique said. “In these sections we’ll be planting rows much closer together – it’ll be high-density planting with the tree heights kept low. We’re also including sacrificial rows. These will have trees of a variety that produces very highly in the early years, then 12 to 15 years in we’ll take the sacrificial rows out and have wide rows again, probably 14 metres or so,” she said.

“What we’re going to end up with is an orchard that’s more versatile. We’ll have a spread of trees that are young, middle-aged and old, grown in slightly different set-ups, and I think that’s the perfect mix.”

Dominique said that she was thankful for all of the research currently going on in the industry. “Especially the cultivar program for varieties and creating uniqueness for Australian macadamias with high yields – I think we’re going to benefit from this one a lot with all our new plantings. There’s also all the work into pests. We currently use beneficial insects and look towards more natural methods where we can but, like all growers, we do rely on sprays. So I’m looking forward to what can come out of our industry-funded work.”

Having fellow growers who are willing to share their wisdom is also something Dominique is thankful for. “It’s so refreshing – especially out of the corporate world – to see that in this industry, everyone wants to see everyone succeed. In our area we have growers who have been in the industry 40 years who are happy to come down the road and share their knowledge and help the newer growers out.”

Working together could also be the secret to what Dominique and Craig have found to be one of the hurdles in their growing. “In a business our size, it’s almost impossible to own every piece of equipment you need to farm efficiently, so I think a centralised equipment hire company specifically for macadamia growers would be a great idea,” Dominique said. “This would need a lot of collaboration and much discussion, but a lot of the time contractors don’t have specific pieces you might be looking for, they’re often unavailable even if they do have what you’re looking for, and also incomes don’t always allow for you to engage a contractor every time you need equipment on your farm. I think this idea would really benefit growers, particularly those in the Northern Rivers area.”

In the meantime, Dominique and Craig will continue to embrace any new idea and opportunity that comes their way. “Every day and every week and every month we look back on what we’ve done, and it’s amazing to see the farm changing so much. I’m excited to see what’s in store. And I have to say that growing is completely addictive. My life now is a far cry from my life running an interior design company – I’m filthy dirty all the time and spend my days being incredibly physical – but it’s so rewarding and has sparked an incredible passion.”

INDUSTRY UPDATE

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