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

Consolidated figures received from SAMAC Handlers/Processors for the first two quarters of the 2021 season indicates a forecast of 54 174 tons dry-nut-in-shell (DNIS). This is 11% higher than the 2020 season of 48 925 tons DNIS.

Climatic conditions impact on the 2021 crop

The season started promising, despite the damage associated with the very cold winter of 2020, as trees flowered profusely, and a bumper crop was expected. Unfortunately, unseasonal frontal rain brought cool and wet conditions during critical times of flowering. This resulted in significant flower blight infections which subsequently affected nut set. Large dense trees seemed to be more severely affected because these trees tend to remain wet for longer periods of time. Beaumont was particularly badly affected with their crop being down in the Nelspruit and North Coast regions of KwaZulu-Natal. The significantly lower total kernel recovery on this cultivar has further reduced their yields whereas other cultivars have approximately a 1-1.5% lower TKR than last season. Fortunately, the cyclone did not impact all regions negatively and brought much needed rain for the replenishment of underground water resources. It is not clear if the very wet weather was the reason for the increase in damage levels by the Tortricidae moth complex, but most production regions experienced a significant increase in damage. This complex of insects is cultivar specific and is expected to have had a considerable negative impact on cultivars such as 816, 788 as well as most hybrids. Damage includes early nut abortion (which is very difficult to quantify) and possible associated higher levels of immaturity.

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 *forecast54 17411% Increase