Growing Innovation: Issue 4, April 4, 2016

Macadamia growers hold the key to success

If you’re smart enough to avoid repeating the same mistake twice, you’re going to be a good farmer.

In the 40-odd years Greg James has been around macadamia farms, those are the words he’s learnt to live by.

He and his wife operate an acclaimed farm in Knockrow, Northern NSW.

In 2013, their operation attracted the prestigious Australian Macadamia Society Large Grower of the Year Award – which is based on high ‘saleable’ (and low ‘reject’) kernel per hectare. Last year, the pair’s crop was listed in the top five of the same category.

However, business hasn’t always been booming.

“I’ve been through three major crashes during the time I’ve been in the industry.” This, Greg said, has taught him to never be complacent.

“One of the main things in farming is profitability,” he said. “Don’t be a tight arse. We spend a lot on our orchard; our average output is high because of our inputs.”

At the time of print, Greg and Joanne were getting ready to start their 2016 harvest. In the months leading up to that moment, they had been moving, checking root stocks, putting in a last lot of fertiliser and getting the harvesting equipment ready. The husking shed had also been prepped, and weather permitting, they were good to go.

The 28-hectare business, James Macadamia Pty Ltd, normally produces up to 140 tonnes of macadamias per year. Each year, the dehusked nuts are sold to a local processer, and distributed all over Australia, and the world.

Keen on- and off-road motorbike riders, Greg and Joanne often embark on trips in Australia and overseas during the off-season. A couple of times they’ve been surprised, but kind of delighted, that people overseas haven’t tasted the nut.

“The advantage of macadamias is supply is below demand, and they’re a world-wide commodity. We haven’t flooded the market yet, and that’s great. We recently went to Ireland and some people there hadn’t heard of them – that’s the potential for macadamias.”