Spring has sprung across Australia’s picturesque macadamia orchards as buzzing bees and fragrant flowering trees of pink and white blooms kick-start the first stage of the growing cycle.
Pollination consultant, Chris Fuller of Kin Kin Native Bees, said millions of native bees that pollinate the orchards’ blossoms play an important role in developing the world’s finest nut.
“When racemes reach full growth at 10 to 15 centimetres long, the flowers begin to open up and because they’re quite small, native bees are crucial for cross-pollination and can enhance macadamias creamy, buttery trademark flavour,” Mr Fuller said.
“Each spray of 40-50 flowers can produce from four to 15 nutlets, depending on variety and pollination,” he said.
Following on from last season’s unprecedented harvest, growers have high hopes a mix of warm, dry days will keep the good times rolling to deliver a spectacular flowering, and ultimately an impressive crop, said Bundaberg grower Peter Reinbott of Hinkler Park Plantation.
“Last year we witnessed one of the best harvests we’ve had on record, and while were not counting our kernels before they crack, the first signs of blossoming is looking very hopeful,” Mr Reinbott said.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done and we’ve got our fingers crossed the elements we cant control will be good to us. The first stage of the season is coming on nicely and although good flowering doesn’t necessarily mean a good harvest, it certainly helps,” he said.
Macadamia trees begin to flower across plantations starting in Bundaberg at the end of August then drift south along the eastern seaboard of Queensland and New South Wales to Nambucca, finishing around late September.
Macadamia trees grow to heights of more than 15 metres in fertile soils of temperate, high rainfall areas. They have shiny dark green leaves and bear sprays of long, sweetly scented creamy white or pink flowers from which clusters of nutlets grow. Each spray of 40-50 flowers produces from four to 15 nutlets which ripen into nuts. The nuts fall to the ground between March and September and are harvested at regular intervals.