GOOD CROPS: Geoff Chivers on his Eardsley Road farm.
GOOD CROPS: Geoff Chivers on his Eardsley Road farm. Mike Knott BUN270917NUTS3

Region's growers too hard to crack

FROM drought declarations to cyclonic weather, Bundaberg macadamia nut farmers were put through the works last year.

But they've still managed to come out on top and now it's time to harvest.

Despite constant lashes from the weather, local farmers have managed to produce 18,767.13tonnes of produce, according to the Australian Macadamia Society.

AMS chief executive officer Jolyon Burnett said it was "a true testament to how great the growers are".

He said between the deluge in October and the New Year's Eve storm, it was possible about 1000 tonnes were lost in weather events, and yet Bundaberg was still the largest-producing region of the beloved nut.

"Growth has been in Bundaberg for the last decade," Mr Burnett said.

"Last year Bundy produced 41 per cent of the total, which was just under 19,000 tonne.

"This season just over 21,000 tonne has been forecast, but we'll have to wait and see."

The AMS yesterday announced this year's Australian macadamia crop is forecast to reach 47,600tonnes in-shell at 10per cent moisture (or 44,500tonnes at 3.5per cent moisture).

The industry forecast is informed by modelling developed across seven years by the AMS and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and historical data provided by the Australian Macadamia Handlers Association.

The macadamia harvest has begun in Bundaberg and will continue for up to six months. The last nuts collected from orchard floors will be in August/September.

Mr Burnett said there was no denying the skill of the region's farmers, some of whom were fourth- generation growers who knew all the ins and outs of farming.

With the wealth of horticulture in the region, he said it was really important the community understood the economic value of farming practices.

According to the AMS, some key reasons for the region's suitability to growing macadamias are its fertile soils, its relatively flat topography and the availability of secure irrigation water, which is sourced from three dams and the Burnett River.

Also, most plantations are on higher ground, which means trees are usually unaffected by flooding.