Macadamia production

The 2020 South African macadamia crop was not as promising as the 2019 crop. The 2020 crop was 48 925 tonnes of inshell macadamias (measured at 1.5% moisture content). Compared to 2019 production, the industry’s production declined with 10 125 tonnes in 2020. 

The decline of the 2020 macadamia crop are due to several reasons, such as climate change, and specifically adverse conditions during flowering and early nut development, mature orchards and insects and diseases. Pruning (or the lack thereof), especially in older trees could also play a role in crop decline. All things being said, formative pruning of young trees should have happened by now while the trees are still small as it will prevent more drastic interventions required later when canopy closure and competition for sunlight starts occurring.

Crop forecast 2021

SAMAC has concluded a crop estimate survey amongst SAMAC Handlers/Processors for the 2021 season. Our crop estimate for 2021 is 57 834 tonnes of nut in shell (NIS: measured at 1.5 % moisture content). This is 18.2% higher than the 2020 crop of 48 925 tonnes.

The current rains in the provinces might be a bonus, because of the below average to average rainfall the past years, which depleted the water tables to such an extent that most production regions were mostly dry at a time when trees really needed water and energy for oil (lipid) production.

In Limpopo the nuts are generally bigger because of the rain the province had and therefore a positive indication that the season ahead will certainly be better than the previous season.  At this stage stink bugs and nut borer numbers are also low in the province.

Mpumalanga rainfall varied from approximately 160 mm to 250 mm during the Tropical Storm Eloise over a three-day period with no significant harm to the trees. We expect a better yield in Mpumalanga even though significant flower diseases were present early in the season.  Stink bugs are certainly much lower, but nut borers are still a concern on cultivars 816, 788 and all hybrids. 

KwaZulu-Natal had a very dry spring with some very high day temperatures which resulted in a low incidence of blossom blight, but a high percentage of aborted ovules or “Nubbins” (Aussie term for nuts which stay small due to aborted ovules) mainly in Beaumont but also in A4/A16. Insect damages were low although the nut borer levels were higher than normal leading to a higher percentage of immature kernels.  So far it has been observed that Integs, mainly 788 (South Coast), 816, 842, 814 and A4 have a better than average set, while the Beaumont crop is looking poor. This will have an overall negative impact on the crop; however, we are optimistic that it will still be better compared to the 2020 crop.

YearTonnagePercentage from previous year
201546 0002,5% Increase
201638 00017,4% Decline
201744 61017,4% Increase
201856 55026,8% Increase
201959 0504,4% Increase
202048 92517,1% Decline
2021 *forecast57 83418,2% Increase

SAMAC is sanguine about the 2021 crop and will update the information as the season progresses.