A quality Nelmac 2 seedling such as this one will be ready for potting at only seven weeks.

Starting with high quality macadamia nut trees when establishing an orchard will not only save growers time and money but will give them an advantage when getting out of the starting blocks, says Haussmann.

Haussmann, who has been propagating macadamia nursery trees for more than 25 years, was recently appointed production manager at Kubu Nursery after serving as a consultant to the operation since 2019.

Kubu Nursery Production Manager Robin Hausmann.

In March 2020, the nurseryman launched the operation as a commercial supplier achieving full accreditation with the Seedling Growers’ Association of South Africa (SGASA).

Hausmann said his appointment was due to the strong values he and the Kubu Group shared.

Kubu Nursery has supplied its own orchard planting requirements since 2014.

“Establishing a macadamia farm is a costly exercise and farmers should by all means be economically minded during every step of the process. But being penny-wise and pound-foolish by skimping on quality will only cost them in the long run,” Hausmann warned.

Quality had to be at the front of every farmer’s mind when investigating a supplier nursery, he said.

“If this means they have to wait a little longer, then I say: ‘rather wait’. Many nurseries promise an unattainable time-frame for delivery or may even offer a discount to try to secure the business. I can tell you no discount can ever make up for poor quality trees. Ultimately, the farmer will end up having to re-order trees to replace those that are not performing or have died, which not only costs time but wastes a lot of money.”

Hausmann advises growers to follow specific guidelines when deciding on a nursery from which to buy trees.

Inspect the nursery before you buy:

A healthy rooted macadamia in a four-litre bag, ready for planting.

“It is so important to visit the nursery and inspect the trees yourself. During the visit you should be able to get a proper look at the trees and inspect the roots. Some bags may be carefully opened and re-sealed without damage to the plant. You should check root density, depth and vigour,” Hausmann said.

The firmness and stability of the growing medium is a sign of good roots.

“Take hold of the stem just above medium level and feel whether it is reasonably firm in the growing medium. If possible, a plant or two should be removed from the bag and growing medium, carefully washed and shaken off and checked for what is commonly known as j-root or other nursery-induced root distortion.”

While it is perfectly reasonable for nurseries to say they are limited in what they can show a prospective customer because they are protecting intellectual property, Hausmann said it was acceptable to request sight of the trees in shade-net areas and to ask to examine the integrity of the root systems.

“I believe this is also a perfectly reasonable request. If the quality of the trees is not good enough, there is a real risk they will die. Even worse, it can sometimes take years before the trees fail, after which the farmer has not only lost money but valuable time as well.”

Good trees have good colour:

Healthy trees have shiny, green leaves with no yellowing or other patchy blemishes. “Do your homework because some varieties are light green in colour, for example, the A4, while others such as 695 are a deep, dark green. The young tree should have a fairly straight, sturdy stem and at least two hardened flushes, preferably three. This is assuming the tree is planted in a four-litre bag, which is the usual volume of the bags.”

Look for quality across the batch:

A healthy potted macadamia after two months.

“Variations in size, colour, and stem thickness are invariably suspect and a sign of concern. Uniform vigour in what you see is generally a good sign. There should also be no insect damage apparent,” Hausmann said.

Transport:

“Once a farmer has satisfied himself that the trees he wants to buy meet all of the above-mentioned criteria then the next important decision is to choose a transporter with experience and who knows how to eliminate plant stress when the trees are moved.”

Hausmann said 12 000 trees could be transported from Tzaneen in Limpopo to southern KwaZulu-Natal for as little as R1.50 per tree.

“That means prospective buyers can then focus on what matters most: buying the best quality trees for their orchards,” he said.

For further information contact Robin Haussmann at robin@kubu-group.com