THE MACADAMIA PLANT

The varieties of Macadamia Trees that are grown commercially in the world today are from selections made from the M. integrifolia specie at the Hawaiian Agricultural Experimental Station and given an HAES number. The earlier successful varieties were also given a Native Hawaiian name. For example, HAES No 74 I, native Hawaiian name: Mauka and 788 is Pahala.

Macadamia nuts bought, sold and consumed in the world markets today are mainly a mixture of almost 10 of these Hawaiian varieties, whether produced in Australia, South Africa or Hawaii. Some cross-bred varieties, emerged from both natural and artificial crosses between M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla are sometimes commercially grown in South Africa, Kenya and Australia. Cross-bred varieties generally produce higher-level returns in many of the localities from which they were selected, most have slightly different kernel characteristics in comparison to the Hawaiian cultivars. to which both the trade and consumers have become accustomed.

For any new grower wishing to establish macadamias, the chosen variety is very important, and should only be made after wise consultation, on the basis of both return and quality characteristics. The basis of all the knowledge gained from SAMAC’€™s research on varieties to date (oldest varieties trial now 11 years old), some guidelines:

Use at least 2-3 cultivars when planting macadamia trees, for instance 695 Beauomont, A4 and 791. Depending on the area, the Beauomont will start producing after around 4 years and the others 2-3 years later. Macadamia trees will produce kernel recoveries in excess of 30-35%. The current world record is held by Dux Afri in Tzaneen with an average of over 50% sound kernel.  Mature macadamia varieties that are in production at a young age, produces lower quality kernels. After 8-12 years, the average yield per Ha should be around 4 tons per Ha.

Note that these are general guidelines only. More precise recommendations for specific regions will become available as the information from SAMAC cultivar trials increases.