Qld macadamia producers named top growers for 2019

A Queensland couple has been name the 2019 Australian Macadamia Grower of the Year.

Donnybrook-based Julie and Gary Davis planted their orchard 22 years ago and have since produced high quality nuts while also contributing to the industry as a whole.

Their five-year average (2014-2018) was 1.65 tonnes of saleable kernel per hectare.

Along with their son Mitchell Davis (GJ&M Nuts) and Jim Phillips (JP Water), they were also the joint recipients of the Innovation Award for their micro-irrigation/fertigation system on their Canina orchard, near Gympie.

The system was designed to be effective on steep/undulating slopes, sustainable and efficient.

It was the result of very close collaboration between grower and designer. It received the Excellence in Irrigation Planning and Analysis Honour Award from the American Society of Irrigation Consultants.

Alan Coates from Ridgewood was awarded the prestigious Norman R Greber Trophy for his outstanding contribution as an educator and consultant as well as a collaborator in research trials for the biocontrol of insect pests.

Mr Coates has been at the forefront of the industry's education program over the past 30 years, teaching growers to look after their soil and focus on achieving environmentally friendly sustainable outcomes.

He has also been keen on driving the industry towards integrated pest and disease management.

NSW Mid North Coast grower, Chris Cook, was crowned Young Achiever of the Year for his use of information, innovation, technology and collaboration to significantly improve orchard operations, efficiency, productivity and sustainability at the Dymocks farming operation.

The 36-year-old has immersed himself in the industry since first entering in 2011.

He regularly visits other producing regions to expand his knowledge and participates in the industry benchmarking program to gain a better understanding of the farms' production.

AMS chief executive officer, Jolyon Burnett, congratulated all the winners and paid tribute to the 800 Australian macadamia growers.

regarded as pioneers in horticulture more broadly, thanks to the breakthroughs our industry has made in growing, post-harvest handling, technology, food safety and marketing," Mr Burnett said.

"At the heart of this is a continued desire to find new ways to do things better. We are an industry powered by the collaboration and innovative thinking of our people.

"Our award winners are a great example of this and are helping to drive our industry's success."

Mr Burnett said advances made by the Australian macadamia industry over the past five to seven years have been driven largely driven by long-term investment in productivity improvements.

"Our annual $5 million investment in R&D is now complemented by a surge in grower-led innovation, with many growers investing in their own trials and implementing innovative and sustainable new practices on farm."

 Australia boasts 8.7 million macadamia trees on 28,000 hectares producing about 46,000 tonnes/year, with a farm-gate value of $267m.

Source: QCL

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