MORE than 50 local Bundaberg macadamia growers came together last week for an Australian Macadamia Society's (AMS) free industry workshop - called "MacGroups" - the final round for the year.
Growers gathered at the Steinhardt family orchard in Farnsfield for the event, which focussed on production, orchard floor management and soil health and featured a number of key speakers.
Speaking at the MacGroups was AMS CEO Jolyon Burnett, who delivered an industry update, and productivity development officer Robbie Commens, who recently took out Horticulture Australia's 2013 Young Leader Award, the most prestigious national horticulture industry award for people under the age of 35.
One of the key focuses for the day was Mr Commens' presentation on the key findings from the macadamia industry Investigative Committee's study tour of highly producing orchards in New South Wales and Queensland.
"This is all about helping all growers in the Australian macadamia industry improve production in mature orchards and assisting owners and managers of young orchards to avoid mature orchard management production decline," he said.
"One of the best ways to learn how to succeed is to find someone that is already succeeding and ask them how they are doing it.
"And these MacGroups offer exactly that opportunity."
Mr Commens outlined the key elements of successful mature orchard management, together with a number of important recommendations including covering exposed roots, seeking professional pest management advice, development and maintenance of an annual nutrition program, proactive management and canopy manipulation.
"Managers of all the high performance mature orchards were striving to improve production, had a long-term plan and a strong focus on timeliness (of pest management, nutrition etc)," Mr Commens said.
"They also were consistent in maintaining the required and recommended nutrition outputs manually, regardless of the nut-in-shell price.
"They consistently had a minimum of 60% productive canopy with most above 75% productive canopy volume.
"The vast majority of the canopies were green and intercepting light."
Local macadamia and avocado expert consultant Dr Chris Searle followed Mr Commens with a presentation on soil health, and the event ended with demonstrations of new machinery in the orchard.
Australia is the largest producer of macadamias in the world.
Bundaberg is the second-highest - and the fastest growing - macadamia producing region of Australia, producing more than 25% of Australia's macadamia nuts.