There is a lot that happens before you even plant your new mac tree; a lot that can either make or break your anticipated returns on investment. The aim, in this article, is to identify what you need to look out for when navigating this early stage of mac farming.

First off, let’s examine the check-list:


The business plan (inc cashflow forecast) is a highly personalised document with dependencies on the size and structure of the current operation and the overhead allocations thereof, finance arrangements, return on investment expectations and succession planning.

Too many elements, with too many variables, to be able to give any guidance in this article. Suffice to say that it is an essential part of any new venture and, as hard as it is to produce, especially for our admin-challenged out-door boys 😊, it will be helpful in the long-run, even if it is just to manage your expectations and see where you can make changes the next time around.

Besides the mandatory ‘balancing of the books’, some compulsory considerations in your plan are:

  • Cultivar selection. A consideration that should play into this forecast is the cultivar/s you are choosing as they yield different quantities, at different ages and at varying qualities (which fetch different prices, in different markets).
  • Market demand. Whilst no one has a crystal ball, there is no shortage of opinions on what the market will be looking for in 10 years time. Try to align your plantings with market demands. It is anticipated that the market will be far more selective then than it is now. We have seen this happen in the avo industry where an avo is no longer an avo; it is either a hass or a fuerte or a pinkerton … similarly, our consumers will also be asking for specific cultivars.
  • Supply Chain. How will you sell your nuts? There are numerous options, each with benefits and drawbacks; before signing anything, make sure you are fully aware of all the fine print and what it takes to leave the agreements should circumstances change.
  • Your Goals. Going beyond the financial aspect. You should also be considering what kind of farmer you are. Honestly. Do you enjoy the detail and fuss? Or do you prefer a more laissez faire approach? Best to look yourself in the mirror, now, and align your expectations with your reality. Planting demanding trees, in a dense orchard, will only yield expected returns if you are happy to invest heavily in their maintenance. If you are more of a laid-back farmer or one whose main priority is to leave the environment better off, or spend more time with the family, then consider the hardier varieties that may not deliver the very best quality but they also demand less of you.


Now this is where we can help … I visited quite a few nurseries, whilst doing the famous “country trip”, and asked them all the same sort of questions with the aim of bringing you well-rounded, broad insight into where, how and when to order your trees. There are most certainly two farming camps: those who read the paragraph above (on planning) and say “not for me, I’m just going to wing it” and those who appreciate the value of detail. If you are from the former camp, you can usually pick up trees pretty easily and cheaply, within a month or two of deciding you want them. Yes, sure, some will die but most will survive to bring you adequate headaches, frustrations and maybe even okay returns (while the market is buoyant). You may also want to plant them as densely as possible on any spare soil you have with, of course, as little soil prep as possible. You don’t need this article.

But, if you are looking to make this a long-term investment, for you, your children, the industry and the earth at large then maybe you’d like to continue reading …

Select a nursery

What usually happens when an industry starts booming? Everyone and their dog jumps on the bandwagon. Think about the hundreds of new “hand sanitisers” and “mask” suppliers that have sprung up in recent weeks. Sure, they all have some level of efficacy and, when you are desperate to get productive, you take what you can get. The same applies to nurseries – many will pop up to meet the swell in market demand and you need to filter the crowd. What’s the best way to do this?

SAMAC is our industry ‘north star’ and have acted responsibly by appointing the Seedling Growers’ Association of South Africa (SGASA) to evaluate and issue adherence approval, of mac growing nurseries, through their Certification Scheme which aims to:

  1. promote good nursery practices,
  2. ensure legislative requirements are met and
  3. recognise nurseries that are excelling.

While those 3 short points seem simple enough, getting certified, in reality, is not that easy. The nursery has to apply for the certification and submit themselves to audits. It can be expensive, time-consuming and a little too much for some. From a farmer’s perspective though, you can rest assured that the nurseries, who do have accreditation, are safe bets. That is not to say that others aren’t safe, it just means that you need to do the due diligence and figure out why they aren’t accredited – is it their choice, or are they not up to standard?

And this is not to say that the accredited nurseries are flawless either – I was on a farm that had been supplied by one of them when the farmer received confirmation that he had indeed been supplied the wrong cultivar – 3 YEARS PREVIOUSLY – it just so happened that the cultivar he got was one he specifically didn’t want. And now he had invested 3 years into them … SAMAC specifically states that they do not accept any responsibility for nursery trees and it is the responsibility of the grower/purchaser to inspect the trees prior to delivery. And that got me thinking … how do we tell, early on, what cultivar we are looking at? How could we help you avoid the situation this farmer found himself in? I have recently produced the Macadamia Cultivar Poster which gives the leading characteristics of the 12 most popular cultivars but it is not an identification tool. We need a poster that will help you to identify which tree you are looking at when it is 1 to 3 years old …. So, I created The Macadamia Identification poster for Young Trees, which I hope will help you to identify a young tree by its leaves alone. {click here to see the poster}

I will bring some with me on my next country-trip but you are welcome to print it out at your local large-format printer in the interim. It has been created at an A1 size – 840mm x 594mm.

Back to selecting a seedling source … it is hard to over-emphasise the importance of this step. That baby tree is your future factory – long term. The ambitions and expectations you have of that tree align directly with the ambitions you have for your whole business. You are investing in land-prep, nutrition, irrigation, processing and equipment, all in preparation for what that little tree will grow in to. Surely this is not the stage to save a couple of rand per tree? I know that, over many hectares, the couple of rands add up to a sizeable amount, as do the other input costs and opportunities to save. After engaging the top mac farmers for almost a year now, I haven’t met one who feels this is a step you can compromise on. Quality seedlings are the only way to go. And, usually, quality seedlings come from quality nurseries.

Assessing the importance of good tree selection is simple when you consider how many chances you get to make this decision – ONE! Same as how many chances you get to adequately prepare your soil – ONE! Most other tasks are open to “do-overs”, like fertiliser and irrigation and intercropping and pesticides … all these things allow you to correct your mistakes but not buying new trees and preparing the land.

So, how do you assess the quality of a seedling and nursery? I visited 4 nurseries earlier this year; three were most certainly registered, one was in the process. Between that research and the input of farmers, I have come up with a few pointers on what to look out for, besides the certification mentioned already:

  1. If the nursery has trees available, ask why. The most popular nurseries do not cater for ‘walk-ins’. They grow CUSTOMISED orders. Their capacity will be consumed by farmers who came to them 12 to 18 months beforehand, paid a deposit for specific varieties, to be grown in specific ways, for delivery at a specific time. They won’t have trees waiting for you. Unbelievably, I heard of instances where poorly-planned farmers offered nurseries higher prices to take other farmers orders AND SOME NURSERIES WILL COLLUDE with this unscrupulous way of doing business by taking the higher price and bumping the original farmer to a later delivery date. When it comes to money and people, the outcomes can be quite astonishing. Bottom-line: if the nursery can help you, but only in a year or two, keep them on your list. If the nursery can help you now, be wary. Even if the nursery insists that someone cancelled their order so it is available to you, be careful. The top nurseries I visited say that if they were to have an order cancelled, there are already 8 farmers on a waiting list ready to pick up.
  2. Secure the price now. Pay deposit (your commitment), secure the price and delivery (nursery’s commitment)
  3. Clearly understand what you are paying for. How high, how big, what condition, what size bag, pruned or not etc etc. SGASA certification gives clarity to this. There will be a page in the nursery agreement that clarifies all these points. It’s all about managing expectations.
  4. Do you need to transport the trees long distance? If so, consider a micro-grafted option. Only select nurseries offer this.
  5. Visit a few nurseries. Look for a nurseryman with whom you connect – make sure they are as interested in your operation as you are in theirs. Start building a relationship that is founded on trust. When you visit these nurseries look out for things like:
    1. Symptoms and deficiency indictors.
      1. Look at the colour of the leaves. Yellowing can be attributed to a number of things. If it is purely low nitrogen, it is simple to remedy but it can also be an indication of root health, and that would be concerning.
      2. Inspect the stems for cracks, bursts or peeling. These defects, as well as red tree sap on wounds, indicate phytophthora.
    2. Algae in the bag – This hints at over-watering which would impact root development. Phytophthora has little legs, making it a good swimmer, that thrives in water-logged environments.
    3. Kinked stems – poor graft points will affect the flow of nutrients.
    4. Growing medium – find out more about what they are using. Inspect it and find out how it is sterilised. We have to keep in mind that samples sent for testing can always be ‘doctored’ so inspecting the situation yourself is invaluable.
    5. Investigate the ‘journey’ your trees will follow. In some nurseries, the trees are labelled from the beginning allowing you to monitor them throughout the process.
  6. Successfully smooth transition. Make sure you understand how your nursery is prepping your trees for transplant. Eg: You may do a lot of well-intended harm if you leave your trees for 2 weeks under cover before planting as they may have been (sun) hardened off and therefore better off left outside. A reputable nursery will be invested in your success post-purchase and will walk the journey with you. A fly-by-night will more likely wave goodbye as soon as you make the final payment.

Plan the Orchard

Soil profiling is vital. It involves digging a number of pits in the field that will become the orchard. By carefully analysing the type of soil at the various layers, you will be able to develop a land preparation plan and start deciding what cultivars would do best. The soil profile will also play a major role in deciding how to irrigate.

Macadamias are hardy trees, wired to flourish in the wild. If we carefully consider the soils they have come from (organically rich, damp forest floors with vibrant, healthy microbial life) and do our best to emulate these in our own orchards, we will succeed. Whatever you have in terms of soil, prepare and supplement it in a way that will take it to mac-perfect conditions:

Shallow soils (less than 1,2m) Consider ridging to build up adequate depth to host a healthy, fully developed root system.
Clear soil transitions If you clearly have different types of soil within the 1,2m depth, consider ripping well to break those dividers. Water does not move well from one type of soil to another.
Sandy soils These soils do not retain moisture well and therefore need to be watered regularly.

Roots have easy passage through the softer, sandy soils but may struggle to locate nutrients which are more easily leeched from sandy soils. Organic matter will improve the soil health which, in turn, will improve the tree health.

Clay-heavy soils These soils can become compact easily and are moisture-hoggers. Managed well, this can be a blessing, especially if supplemented with organic matter that will help to aerate and soften the soil.

Also consider the orchard gradient. Drainage and soil erosion are two sides of the same coin. It is just as important that soils are well-drained as it is that top soil is preserved. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for phytophthora and other fungi. Running water needs to be channelled so that it does not expose surface roots and wash away soil nutrients.

Soil analysis is also imperative. All fields come with history; that may have been a monocrop over decades or it may be a virgin block – either way, it is vital to know what is in that soil. pH corrections with lime and/or gypsum is important. You may want to rest the land under a nutritious, nitrogen-rich cover crop. Remember that macadamias are susceptible to phosphorous toxicity so it is important to make sure your intended orchard is not carrying too much phosphorous.

In the process of soil profiling and analysis, you may discover that the field is not suitable for macadamias. Just because the price is high and the neighbour is planting macs, doesn’t mean it is right for you. Or perhaps there is another area on our farm better suited to macs. I have heard countless stories of farmers who have revised their plans after taking a closer look at the situation below the surface. You may also change the cultivar you initially thought suitable after a closer look at the soil. Once you have placed an order with a nursery, there is usually a window during which you can change the cultivars selected. The seedlings take approx. 10 months to grow from seeds to the right size for grafting. As long as you don’t change the root stock, you could change the cultivar you ordered for grafting within period. But stay close to your nursery if you intend to make use of this window.

Grafted Trees Vs Rooted Cuttings

I came across two ways to propagate macadamia trees; grafting on to hardy seedlings or rooting cuttings. Some nurseries use both methods and insist that it is personal choice and there is no difference. Rooted cuttings is a relatively new way of establishing a mac tree with success limited mostly to Beaumonts and A4s. Usually the price of the tree is slightly less (about R10 per tree) than a grafted tree as it takes less input and time to produce. Although it seems like a short-cut, some farmers are seeing brilliant results from their rooted cutting orchards. Perhaps it is just that we are inherently sceptical of ‘new’ until success is clearly established.

Beaumont rooted cuttings and Mountain View Nursery

When In The Year To Plan Your Plantings

If you have a clear idea of when in the year you want to put your new trees in the ground, you need to think about that very early on. As the best nurseries are taking orders for 18 months from now, on a first-come-first-served basis and those farmers with foresight, are requesting delivery at a specific time of the year, you may loose that level of flexibility if you don’t get your order in early – 2 years in advance is what the top nurseries recommend.

The planting process itself is stressful for the tree, by planting at a bad time just makes the stress worse and the losses higher.

When is the best time? Conversely, the nurserymen clarify when is NOT a good time: “avoid climatic extremes” is what they recommend; plan to plant before the rains, when the temperatures are more moderate – whenever that may be in your area.

New Cultivars

I was privileged to meet two new kids on the block, whilst at Cultivating Solutions on the North Coast – A268 and A203. Both are available under licence from Citrogold, with royalties payable to this Australian breeder. This means they are slightly more expensive (R10/tree royalty surcharge ) and only available from certified nurseries (another plus about dealing with the guys who have gone through the SGASA accreditation).

As with all A-variety macs, these new ones are also reputed to deliver superior nut quality, high yields, early yielding etc.

Dustin, owner of Cultivating Solutions, mentioned that there are another 7 new cultivars being refined currently; some of them are South African. They haven’t produced a commercial crop yet and don’t even have names so it is early to tell how much they will change the market but it is very exciting to know that the industry is full of innovation.

We also wait eagerly to welcome the first dwarf cultivars but we are a little way off that for now.


If you are regular TropicalBytes readers you will be familiar with my friend, Dr Elsje Joubert. She is an entomologist and mac consultant based in Levubu. She sent me a helpful, 5-step illustration of grafting when she heard I was going to be covering the beginning of the macadamia journey – if any of you are interested in ‘experimenting’. As farmers, I am sure most of you have tried your hand at this and succeeded. As cautious businessmen, I am also sure that most of you still prefer to buy from professional, accredited nurseries. It’s still nice to know how to do it …

Root stock seedlings usually take about 10 months to become large enough to graft successfully.


Some nurseries graft when the seedling is only 8 weeks old! I have not yet seen the practice but understand the reasons for it are to reduce turnaround times and transportation costs. Delivery of these trees can take place within 5 months. Of course, this does not mean you will get to yielding age any sooner and you do require suitable facilities to get the trees to a size that they can be planted into the field, so it seems to only make sense if transportation costs are an issue.

There is also a new buzz word in the industry – Juvenility. As we all know, anything young grows vigorously. Think of your child, that new-born calf or those weeds in that freshly turned soil. Inherently, rapid growth is part of the juvenile phase. It is also a phase that requires much nurturing to navigate safely. Think about your child and how much hard work they are in the first few years, or raising an orphaned calf. A very young mac tree is no different – and, unless you have a really good reason for taking it early – like the cost-savings on transporting smaller trees – it doesn’t seem wise to take them out of the highly specialised nursery care any sooner that you have to. The vigour associated with juvenility is inherent and can be fully promoted through perfect growing mediums and excellent nutrition.

NB: Both ways, you get to productivity at the same time.

In the interests of providing you with comprehensive insight, I will do my best to visit a micro-grafting nursery as soon as possible and bring you further information on this method should I have missed anything integral.

To plant in seed-beds or directly into bags?

I saw it done both ways and can see the advantages and disadvantages of both. Transplanting from a seed-bed into a bag affords the nurseryman the opportunity to give the seedling a ‘full medical’ and select only the very best to be planted into bags and go on to the next stage. The ‘full medical’ includes these checks:

  • Ensure there is no goose-necking. When a seed is incorrectly orientated in the soil, the growth point will have to turn corners before it grows upright. This will inhibit optimal nutrient flow and result in a sub-standard tree.
  • Ensure strong root development. Mal- or under-formed roots spell disaster for the future of the tree and these seedlings will be discarded.
  • Check whether it has strong, healthy leaves. Under-development in this area indicates a sub-standard tree and these seedlings will be discarded.
  • Clip off the tap root. At this stage, the tap root is shortened so as to prevent any j-rooting or spiral rooting in the bag. J-rooting and spiral rooting are terms used to describe a tap root that has found the confines of its container and starts to deform in order to make growing space. The malformation of this very important root will lead to problems throughout the tree’s life.

Cultivar Solutions, in Kearsney on the KZN North Coast chooses to grow seedlings in seed-beds and plant out into bags at about 3 to 4 months old.

Those who advocate for planting seeds directly into bags emphasise the benefits of not disturbing or risking damage to the young and fragile root systems. I did not encounter any nurseries who planted straight into large bags though – the main reason being that space is expensive in a nursery environment, especially when they are producing 100s of 1000s of trees each year.

I was, however, introduced to an amazing transparent-ish, bio-degradable paper bag at Ezigro in White River. This Dutch innovation seems to address all the transplant risks AND still allow for a comprehensive ‘medical check’. There are a number of adaptations required to incorporate this innovation into a nursery and, while they are seeing very promising progress, they are not yet ready to use these bags on customers’ macadamia orders. They are also large avo producers and the brilliant results seen in this crop as well as preliminary macadamia trials encouraged them to start a full transfer of the technology to the macadamias.

Here are the young macs in the Ellepots:

You can see the root development without removing the bag (far right hand pic). You also have the option to trim the tap root. Most of the other roots are “air-pruned”. Beila and Brendon at Ezigro explained that they are refining the growing medium that is both best for the macs and can be used in the equipment used to fill the bags. They also need to optimise environmental conditions like moisture and temperature management to suit this new way of growing macs. Seeing new technology like this is such an encouragement, especially when it will save the planet from millions of plastic bags. It also allows for better plant health as the roots remain undisturbed whilst moved from one size bag to another, as well as into the ground. The bags decompose within about 9 months.

Root stock:

Beaumonts have traditionally been the only reliable option here in SA but lately some Nelmac 2 is being incorporated into the mix. According to the nurserymen I engaged with, there is no difference between the two with regards to quality or yield later on. The reason for including another variety is to spread risk should one of them become susceptible to a disease or fungus.

Growing Medium:

It is important to investigate what growing medium is being used by your nursery and that the right processes are being kept. Most important here is the sterilisation of growing medium. Bacteria and fungi thrive in warm, moist conditions and compost is therefore a favourite hang-out. Through accurate temperature control suppliers can ensure that their compost is free of harmful bacteria and full of beneficial micro-organisms. If a nursery uses sand as a growing medium, it has to be chemically sterilised which is obviously something to be cautious about. As a part of the SGASA accreditation, compliant nurseries must submit growing mediums for testing and they must keep samples from every delivery so that back-checking is possible should something slip past the testing process. Although a seed bed may start off ‘clean’, it is important that it is not used too often without some sort of treatment to ensure that it is still safe for new germinations.

Cocoa peat is becoming a favourite medium; it preserves water and retains soil around the roots, minimising the exposure they suffer during replanting.

Yellow leaves are a common sight in most macadamia nurseries and probably indicate a lack of nitrogen in the growing medium. It is simple to overcome but even better to avoid completely. The right mix in the medium will goa long way to achieving this.


Water supply and treatment is a big part of the SGASA accreditation. They insist on both the obvious like legal, sufficient and clean water supplies, through to compulsory provision of a generator so that even when Eskom is down, irrigation can continue. Some very good nurseries have decided that that expense is more than they are willing to incur and are therefore unable to achieve accreditation.

Other things to look out for in a nursery:

  • It is important that the plants rest on well-drained, raised beds so that any contamination does not run from one plant to the next along the bed.

The pics above are from multiple nurseries but all show that this protocol is well-observed in the top nurseries.

  • The trees need to begin the transition to the orchard whilst still in the nursery’s care. This starts with “hardening off” in an outside area of the nursery. This is done to gradually introduce environmental changes and thereby limit stress to the trees. At Cultivating Solutions, the trees spend a month in the outside area. They get a dose of sunblock and it is recommended that another application be given when the trees are planted on the farm as they will then no longer be shaded by their neighbour like they are in a nursery environment.

  • Mother blocks. Although it is certainly not essential, being able to ‘view the parents’ is as nice when it comes to macs as it is when you consider investing in a new puppy. When looking at these ‘mothers’ keep in mind that they are being grown for their vegetative yield, not their nut yield …

3-year-old 863 mother block at Cultivating Solutions

  • Check water quality tests. All nurseries should have this on file. Phytophthora is a major concern and the presence of Pythium is an indication of poor hygiene.

Which cultivars are most popular currently?

This differs from region to region but right now, the focus is off Beaumont – probably because most farmers already have those so demand to the nurseries has slowed. A4 are the favourites right now, followed by Nelmac 2, 816, 814 and A16.

I haven’t made the trek to the Cape yet, to find out what’s happening in the bourgeoning mac world in that area, but Stefan, from Mountain View Nursery near Tzaneen has a farm near George and was able to fill us in … he said that Beaumonts don’t seem to be doing well down there. I am not surprised to hear this as they are not fond of sea air. What’s important to remember about the Cape is that it is not a subtropical climate, like the pioneering mac-growing areas are. The Cape is a far more Mediterranean climate – Mediterranean climates are primarily found on the western edges of continents, where cool ocean currents serve as one of the dominating influences. Humid subtropical climates tend to be found roughly on the opposite side of the continents, bordering eastern coastlines and warmer ocean currents.

Stefan reports that A4 and Nelmac 2 are doing well in the Cape but all orchards require wind protection. He planted 4500 trees just before 120 km/hr winds swept through. He was grateful to only loose 27 trees. Stefan has also planted some 791 for their lengthy flowering which will help pollenate most of the orchards. He also has some Beaumonts (because EVERY farm needs Beaumonts 😊) and some 816s. The farm is irrigated but the Cape drought saw the water source (a canal) dry up. He then sunk a borehole which needs to be carefully monitored for salinity.

There are no accredited nurseries in the Cape, mostly because germination in this cooler environment is a challenge.

Stefan also explained that orchard spacing is much closer in these parts as the trees will not get as big as they do on the Eastern side of SA. Currently he is using a 6 x 3m spacing plan in George.

There are quite a few farmers giving macadamias a go in the Cape … perhaps I can bring you more news from these parts in 2021 …

How best to prepare for the arrival of your trees:

It is recommended that you prepare a receiving area to hold your trees in as they arrive so that the trees stay upright. If the bags fall over and receive the full angle of the sun they can get to 50°C in no time and the tree will not survive.

A few pegs and wire will do the job.

The nurserymen emphasised the need for exceptional land prep and soil corrections as a primary focus area for new orchards.

Second to that they warned not to underestimate how much water a mac tree needs in the beginning. It will be 6 to 8 months before roots reach well into the soil. The compost medium that the tree is delivered in is easily depleted of water, leaving the young tree bone-dry. You need to make sure that the ROOT area is wet, not the soil around the roots. It is recommended that each tree needs 20 litres per week for first 8 months.

What about gel? Yes, let’s look a little closer at this innovation. I only encountered it at one nursery and he didn’t like it, saying that he thought its presence encouraged the roots to stay ‘local’ when the tree was planted out but he conceded that there are two situations in which it might be helpful:

  1. Dryland farming
  2. In long-haul transportation.

Planting process:

Dig the holes before you take the trees out to the field. Once they have been dug, move the trees into the new orchard and place them directly into the holes. This will mean they don’t get blown over in the wind and the black plastic does not overheat the root zone as it will be shaded by the walls of the hole. When all the trees are placed safely in the holes, come back and start to un-bag them and plant properly. Remember to make sure that your staff do not plant the trees too deep – I am astounded to hear how often this happens, with devastating results. The soil level should be the same, or perhaps 1 to 2 cm above the soil level that was in the bag.

One of the main reasons behind slipping the bag over the tree is that it minimises the soil loss around the roots. The consequences of bent roots may only be seen in later years and by then it is too late.

Mulching is a key ingredient that will help the young trees keep cool and the soil to conserve water.

Lastly, remove the labels from the trees. It is important that the trees arrived with labels so that you can be sure you are receiving the cultivars you ordered and that the right cultivars go to the right orchards.

If your trees came from a reputable nursery, no fertilising will be necessary at this stage but this is a very important point in the handing over of an order. Make sure you know what fertiliser came in the soil, with the trees, and when the nursery recommends you apply the next dose.

One of the most respected nurseries suggested that a water cart is a far better option than any other form of irrigation in these early days as it compacts the soil down well. Usually the tree bags are filled with some type of bark combination and have far more air pockets than normal soil. Bark is also hydrophobic meaning that if it dries out, it is difficult to rehydrate.

Another valuable pointer is to be very conscious of exactly where the dripper is placed (how far away from the tree) as a little too far can mean the difference between a tree thriving or dying.

And that’s about it … I trust your time was well-spent and you learnt enough to make a difference to your next orchard.

In wrapping up, I’d like to point out some of the benefits of getting your trees from a SAMAC-approved nursery. Many of them do not relate directly to the quality of your tree or the yield it will deliver. Nonetheless, they are vital considerations:

  • Should something go wrong, SAMAC will only investigate complaints about an approved nursery. You are on your own if you dealt with an unapproved supplier.
  • The SGASA audit is more intense than global gap audit. And if you are a global gap farmer there are many pages of that audit you can skip if you got your trees from a SGASA-approved nursery.
  • SGASA includes labour regulations and compliance. So, by dealing with an approved nursery, you do not run the risk of the nursery falling foul of labour laws, being shut down and not being able to deliver your trees.
  • The audit includes checks throughout the growing process which keeps risks low – You don’t need to keep checking up on your trees.
  • Biosecurity considerations. This is a biggie! Consider felted coccid – a pest that found its way into SA on budwood. Certified nurseries have to track seed and budwood journeys so that diseases can be traced. We all have a responsibility to the industry and to our country to make biosecurity management more efficient. We only have to think about the pandemic we are currently living in to appreciate the value of this.
  • New varieties are only being given to the registered nurseries because there is credibility and traceability. Before, with no accountability, and therefore lax controls for royalties, no one wanted to release new cultivars in SA. So this system is allowing us to stay ahead, or at least, keep up.
  • Proper ablutions and compounds are also a part of the certification and provide a guideline as to what is right. Farming legacy is sometimes not the best and we can stay current and responsible by conforming to a standard – it takes the setting of standards from subjective to objective.
  • Protecting the environment. The effective handling and containment of chemicals is a priority in attaining accreditation.

Thank you to these nurseries for giving me their time and sharing their expertise on the beginnings of a macadamia orchard.

The next article will be on MACADAMIA PESTS – yup, a fascinating topic. I cannot wait to write it and to share the interesting world I discovered through the minds and microscopes of our wonderful entomologists.

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Until July, Cheers.