Happy New Year 

I cannot remember a festive period when the weather has been so intensely discussed across all media formats. The continued dry conditions, localised hail storms and more recently the devastating fires across Eastern Australia, have brought to the fore the conditions you as farmers deal with every day.  To counter the dry season many farmers, with and without irrigation, have changed practices to mitigate the harm caused by one of the driest years on record. Megan, Paul and Steve have done a great job of helping provide information to assist, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are looking for advice on any aspect of production.
At the factory we completed cracking in the weeks leading up to Christmas whilst also continuing to dispatch product to our customers. Our revenue increased by over $1 million as compared to 2018.  This was driven by combination of factors such as the additional kernel produced in January and February, a steady increase in raw kernel sales value and solid supply of high quality kernel from the 2019 crop. 

While our 2019 results will not be finalised for some time I am confident of a positive result driven by improved efficiencies in the receivals, storage and processing areas of our business combined with the marketing efforts of Green and Gold. The next few months will see us complete a managed maintenance program while also continuing to process product through our value-add areas to meet the ongoing demand for roasted and diced products.  The team is making full use of all recent investments to improve efficiency which drives profitability. 
In these challenging conditions Suncoast Gold is committed to supporting each and every one of our shareholders and suppliers into 2020.  The partnership between growers and processors is key for Suncoast Golds prosperity and I am keenly aware that the support of all our suppliers adds real value to all shareholders and suppliers.  As a cooperative we are committed to sharing in this value.  
As always I welcome feedback and comments, our office is open and you are welcome to drop in or call at any time. I would like to wish you all the very best for 2020.
Ben Adams | General Manager

Crop Stage Check  |  Oil Accumulation

With shells now well hardened, we have entered the all important oil-accumulation period.   Now is a crucial time for consistent moisture management, making non-irrigated farms particularly vulnerable to the risk of immature kernel.  Stick to your irrigation and nutrition schedule and start preparing for the pre-harvest clean-up by spot spraying weeds, picking up sticks and debris, removing suckers or fallen limbs. Pre-harvest orchard floor mulching is crucial for quality and food safety and should be done by the end of January to remove late fallen or hail/insect damaged nut dropped since the final harvest round.  

Changes to minimum NIS size at SGM

A reminder that for the coming 2020 season we will be accepting nut in shell down to a minimum size of 17mm. After conducting some onsite trials we have confirmed that some value can be gained by processing the smaller nut due to increases in efficiency in the cracking and sorting lines in the last 12 months. 
Its been a long hot and dry summer and there will undoubtedly be some small sized nut coming though.  We hope that this change will allow our growers to extract greater value from their crop.

Get a Head Start on Post Harvest Handling

To assist with improvements to your on farm sorting, storage and handling, we are pleased to offer advice and support from Jeremy Brown to our suppliers as needed. 
Based at the SGM factory in Gympie, Jeremy has a wealth of knowledge in operation and maintenance of a wide range of nut handling equipment.  
Just make contact with Megan, Paul or Ben if you would like Jeremy inspect your facilities.

December meeting brings growers together

Growers and industry representatives came together in mid-December in the Gympie and Glasshouse regions after some devastating hail storms and widespread concern about the continuing dry season.   With the 2019 Benchmarking meetings postponed and no December Macgroup planned, there was a real need to provide an opportunity for growers in these regions to get together.  Vital information was shared to support growers going though tough times from drought and natural disaster.
Around 40 people attended the meeting in Glasshouse Mountains area held at Daniel and Angela Jacksons, who were hard hit by the hail. We had a walk through some of the hail affected blocks and observed the blunt bruising damage caused by the large hail. The message was clear from the group that the response to a hail event should be swift and include crop protection to prevent further damage from fungal pathogens and insects.  Registering severe storm damage with DAF can assist in a regional disaster declaration and help in allocation of funds and assistance to the industry. 
The Industry Benchmarking Team presented some relevant preliminary and historical data and lead discussions on the challenges of the 2019 season, the progress of flowering/nut set and expectations for the 2020 season.  The groups were fortunate to have Craig, Ruth and Jeremy from the NSW DPI as well as Leoni from the AMS to answer questions be involved in the conversation.  
The meetings were held within days of the announcement of widespread drought declarations with most local government areas in Central and Southern Queensland now declared (see map below).  Growers heard from DAF about various Drought Assistance programs available.  Many growers were interested in the Dam Desilting rebate of up to $25,000 which has been extended to tree crops in Queensland.  Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the discussions.   
Megan Boote  |  Technical Officer, Grower Services
Drought declarations as at 1-12-2019
In Gympie, feral pigs are a perennial problem and other regions are having increasing issue with this destructive pest.  Lands Protection Officer with the Gympie Regional Council, Sally Maxfield attended the grower meeting at Gympie in December seeking to collaborate with growers in regional pig management.  Meetings planned for February including pig trapping training with dates TBA. Interested growers wanting to find out more can contact Sally  0418 603 464, or contact Megan Boote  to register your interest.  

Dam Cleaning on the Agenda

With many irrigation dams at record low levels, many growers have taken the opportunity to clean out dams and increase capacity of their on farm water storage.    The New Bores and Dam Desilting Rebate is available for Permanent Horticulture Tree Crops in Queensland and covers a 25% rebate for new bores or desisting of existing dams up to a maximum of $25,000.

Avoid NIS Losses to Vertibrate Pests

Numbers of vertebrate pests have increased sharply as food and water sources outside orchards becomes increasingly scarce.
Our top tips for control are
PIGS - One growers top tip for trapping was to include some prawn heads, household scraps or roadkill, mixed in well with some waste macadamia nut as bait. Gets them every time!
RATS - Rats will be beginning to feed in the trees so use in-tree bait stations and check regularly.  Orchard hygiene is important in reducing food source and habitat.
COCKATOOS - You may find over time that these clever birds get used to your scaring methods so be sure to change it up.


Bundaberg Update

Hot and dry sum up the conditions experienced for most of Australia and Bundaberg is no exception. Despite this, the 2020 crop is looking promising, growers who have access to sufficient water have done a good job of improving their irrigation practices and managed to hold a good crop of nuts in adverse conditions. More frequent shorter watering is the key, allowing better efficiency through less wastage and making sure that the soil moisture around the fibrous roots of the trees doesn’t reach a dryness that can potentially stress the plant. There is some small nut around, but hopefully not as pronounced as last season. The upside to the dry conditions is that the pest pressure has been moderate to low for most orchards.
The concern over the dry conditions isn’t unfounded, 2019 has been the driest on record, surpassing 1902’s parched result. Just 319mm has fallen this year with the last six months of our growing season only producing 70mm of patchy rain. Many growers are concerned that they will soon run out of irrigation water if they haven’t already, and are rationing the last of their supply.  It will take several months of above average rainfall to see a recovery from the long term deficiencies. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Sunwater made an announcement late in 2019 that they would be releasing 105000 ML of water out to sea in order to reduce the capacity of Paradise Dam to 42% of its potential. This will mean that if there are no significant inflows to the dam in the next few months then the irrigators may face allocations as low as 16%. The dam, built in 2005 at a cost of $240M, allegedly had a fault in its construction that was subsequently weakened by the massive 2013 flood. The planned action is to lower the dam wall by 5m, conduct further tests and keep lowering it until the engineers are satisfied that the wall is safe. This has obvious negative ramifications for all irrigators that use water from this source, including a significant amount of established, new and planned plantings of macadamia trees. Sign a petition to parliament to re-instate long term water supply. for Paradise Dam.
Paul Hibbert  |  Grower Services, Bunderberg 

Macadamia Growers Classifieds

We are very excited to announce that the much loved and used Macadamia Growers classifieds website is being upgraded to facebook in 2020 !
The old site was at least 13 years old and starting to get a bit rusty so the new Facebook buy/sell format will allow for more flexibility in posting your for sale or wanted items including videos, and multiple photos.   Of course you can still email or text listings to us, Contact Megan for assistance.

Join the Facebook Group & List your item now
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Suncoast Gold Macadamias · 21 Drummond Drive · Gympie, Qld 4570 · Australia

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