Macadamia trees take between 4-5 years to bear nuts with a macadamia tree only reaching maturity at around 8 to 10 years depending on the variety. From flowering to harvest, the macadamia nut takes around 8 months to mature or ripen. Macadamias need to be harvested only when ripe to allow the nuts to fully mature and develop the right amount of oil. Although this is a slow process, it is absolutely worth the wait. Macadamia harvesting is also a continuous process as the macadamias nuts do not ripen at the same time. Therefore, a tree needs to be harvested multiple times, in other words patience is key. The macadamia process from flowering to shipping the finished product is explained in the below in 7 steps.
Macadamia trees are quite unique in terms of flowering. Other nuts such as almonds and cashews produce a single blossom for their nuts. Whereas macadamia trees produce long stalks containing hundreds of flowers. These stalks of flowers are called racemes. Creating an astonishing hue of pink and white atmosphere within the orchards. The pink and white flowers are dependent on the macadamia cultivars planted within the orchard. Each flower requires cross-pollination in order for the nut to set and therefore bees play a vital role in macadamia pollination. The flowering season typically occurs in late Winter/early Spring. To be more precise September to mid-October for the Southern Hemisphere and mid-February to mid-April for the Northern Hemisphere.
Although a raceme may contain hundreds of tiny pink or white flowers, only between 40 -50 green nutlets would set during the nut formation period. Nut formation usually starts forming in the early weeks of Sumer right through to Autumn. The macadamias trees set more green nutlets than it can hold during the season. The macadamia tree then undergoes a process called nut shedding or commonly known in the South African industry as “November Drop” where it can lose up to 70% of these little green nutlets. Each nut formation timing varies per variety of macadamia, location, and climatic conditions.
Macadamia nuts reach maturity when oil accumulation is completed. Usually 5 – 6 months after the green nutlets have set on the raceme. The macadamia kernels grow inside of a hard, woody shell protected by a green-brown fibrous husk.
As soon as the macadamia nut reaches full maturity their shells start hardening exponentially. The husk turns brown, shrinks slightly resulting in a split forming on the husk. This process takes place in late spring, followed by rapid oil accumulation in early summer.
Between autumn and winter, mature nuts fall to the ground. However, harvesting can be affected by many factors such as the rain season. Macadamia’s farmers therefore continuously harvest every couple of weeks. As flowering occurs over several months, macadamia nuts mature & drop to the ground over an extended period and are harvested regularly. The harvested nuts have a fibrous outer layer called a husk which is removed by the farmer before the nuts are sent to our processing plant Lowveld Nut Processing (LNP). The macadamia farmers use a machine (dehusker) to remove this fibrous outer layer. The deshuked nuts are sorted and stored in drying bins on the farm to slowly dry the nuts to ensure that the quality on the nuts is maintained before being transported to the facility until enough macadamias have accumulated to transport to our processor Lowveld Nut Processing.
Our processing plant receives the nuts as NIS (nut in shell) from our shareholder farmers. On arrival the macadamia NIS is weighed, sampled, and tested for its quality. Each delivery load (usually an 8 ton delivery) is placed in our curing bins to further dry/cure the NIS before it is ready for processing. Each load is kept in a separate curing bin to ensure traceability and its unique quality identity. This helps us ensure that the perfect quality is allocated to the correct market and in turn customer. Golden Macadamias produces 2 main product lines: macadamia NIS and macadamia kernel. Our macadamias are cracked into a variety of styles, and grades/ This is dependent on both the size and the quality of the kernel. Please see our product range for all the styles that we offer. The macadamias processing season generally runs from the beginning of April until November/December.
Our Golden Macadamias brand has an exclusive marketing arm Nut and Dry Fruit Exchange (NDX) based in Nelspruit, South Africa. This team consist out of a Sales and Marketing department, Finance, and various Key Account Managers to look after our clients and their business needs. The first full container load for the season is normally packed up and ready for shipment from June/July to our global clients. Our shipment dates are style dependant and sometimes it takes a little bit longer due to not knowing what styles would be cracked out, especially the smaller pieces.