The best macadamia nuts start in the nursery. This is where it all begins, the beginning of a long term investment, the beginning of the Queen of all nuts, the beginning of a passion to produce the best macadamia nuts.
The first thing to be done is the site selection. This is a very important decision to make. A good selection a good nursery a poor selection and endless problems. There are some important aspects that must be considered and taken into account when selecting your nursery site.
- Water availability for irrigation, spraying operations and general use.
- Accessibility for tractors and equipment.
- Drainage soil and contours and channels.
- 5 – 10 degree slope will assist greatly
- Wind protection
- Sunlight penetration
- Pump station sites for irrigation
- Distances to lands for planting time.
The work begins
Plan to level the site maintaining a 5 – 10 degree slope. Peg out and cut all miter, contour and channel drains keeping the gradient so as to prevent soil erosion and nutrient lose. Plan where all that water will be going so you do not contaminate your planned pump station site. Keep in mind the positioning of your access roads, nursery office, storerooms etc.
The site needs to be securely fenced with a tractor and a pedestrian gate as the only entrances. The tractor gate must have a wheel wash bath as must the pedestrian gate have a boot wash bath. A wash hand basin with running water must be positioned at the gate. As for all nurserys hygiene is of utmost importance. Diseases can be carried into the nursery on tractor/trailer wheels, gum boots, unwashed hands etc. These diseases will and can affect seedlings incurring extra costs through additional chemical or biological applications. Direct sowing beds need to be made up out of bricks or cement blocks and filled with sterilized river sand on top of black plastic sheeting. Fresh undried, dehusked nuts should be soaked for 48 hours and then planted 25 – 40mm apart and covered with 25mm of river sand. This must now be kept moist. One should get approximately 900 nuts per square meter.
When calculating how many plants you need for your orchard always include an extra 40% to cover plant deaths, bed thinning, non germination and poor seedlings. The nuts generally germinate in 30 – 60 days depending on the climatic conditions. Label all beds with the following :
- Planting date
- Quantity of nuts planted
- Bed number
Records must be kept of all operations that take place. A nursery log book or register should be kept in the nursery office for recording all operations in the nursery. It can be used for referencing should problems arise. Records should also be kept of the following :
- Bed numbers and positions in the nursery
- Planting dates
- Diseases scouted and thresholds
- Pests scouted and thresholds
- Chemical sprays with their rates a mode of application
- Biological controls introduced
- Fertilizers applied
- Irrigation quantity and timing of applications
Transplanting into potting sleeves
When seedlings reach 150 – 180mm and have 4 – 5 hardened leaves they should be transplanted into sleeves 100 x 300 or 400mm. The sleeves should be filled with sterilised potting medium, I have used a mixture of steamed river sand and washed coconut husk which has worked well. These potted seedlings are now moved to raised permanent beds. The beds must be no wider than 8 sleeves or 850mm. This is an ideal width for easier spraying, scouting and allows enough sunlight penetration in the centre of the beds. These beds should be under a shade cloth covered structure to protect the young seedling from the elements and it also creates an ideal micro climate which encourages optimum growth.
In Preparing the young seedling for grafting all leaves from the ground up to 150mm on the stem should be removed. Stocks with a stem diameter of 10 – 18mm are considered to be ideal sizes for grafting. The plant tops should be trimmed of at 400mm leaving 3 or 4 whorls of leaves on the stock plant. These plants should then be moved to green house ready for grafting.
The side wedge graft is the most common grafting method used. Scion wood should be carefully selected and prepared for the grafting exercise. Ensure all scions are stored correctly so that they are in a good condition for grafting. Records should be kept in the nursery log book or register of the origin of the scions for future records. Once the stock stems have been cut and the scions have been placed in line with the base of the stock, it should be firmly bound with grafting tape and sealed to eliminate disease and a better union. The grafting tape should always be cut soon after the union between the scion and the stock takes place.
A Seedling (root stock. B Scion wood. C The graft. D Binding firmly with grafting tape
After the scion has grown 100 – 150 mm the entire seedling top should be removed immediately above the union. It must be treated and sealed to prevent disease or die back and insure rapid healing.
Once the grafted seedling are actively growing and have grown out they must be moved out of the green houses to permanent beds under the shade cloth covered structure. Here they will stay until they are ready to be planted out in the lands.
Other nursery requirements not yet mentioned include :
- Nursery office
- Chemical store
- Fertiliser store
- Chemical mixing bay with drench shower
- Implement store
- Toilets ( outside the nursery fence )
- Irrigation pump house
- Transformer or Power supply
- Micro jet or designed irrigation system
- Irrigation monitors
- Spraying equipment
This is a brief over view of the best macadamia nut nursery more in depth information is available if you require it. I hope it has been informative thank you. Please feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org