Ilocos farmers to grow Hawaiian macadamia nuts

Written by Leilani Adriano / Correspondent

Monday, 28 September 2009 18:23

LAOAG CITY—Who says that macadamia nuts can only be grown in the state of Hawaii?

Not anymore, as interested Ilocos Norte farmers are now ready to cultivate a variety of macadamia nuts ideally grown in a tropical climate like in this province.

This was announced by Ilocos Norte Gov. Michael Keon on September 23 after company investors from Hawaii manifested interest in growing macadamia nuts in the province.

Based on scientific study, experts say Ilocos Norte’s rich soil and weather condition have been tested and proven “feasible” to cultivate macadamia nuts, a multimillion-dollar industry in Hawaii.

The proposed cultivation of macadamia nuts in the province, however, needs to be discussed further among Ilocano farmers and groups and individuals interested to venture into this newly introduced investment for the province.

The governor, who visited Hawaii together with some provincial board members, mayors and vice mayors two months ago, said it is a “good idea” to introduce the cultivation of macadamias in some idle lands of the province so that farmers, private business and the government could benefit from it.

This, however, does not mean that farmers would be shifting the traditional planting of cash crops like rice, corn, garlic, onions and other high-value crops, such as locally grown vegetables, but also to provide opportunity among farmers to try cultivating other alternative sources of income, like planting macadamias.

A report obtained from Hawaii Agriculture Statistics Service website shows that macadamia nut was the third-highest commodity by value in the state of Hawaii. A study also shows that Hawaii was the world’s largest producer of both dried and in-shell macadamia nuts until it was overtaken by Australia, now the leading producer of macadamia products.

In Hawaii commercial orchards are planted with grafted seedlings, according to a Hawaiian agriculture research on macadamias’ cultural practices. Macadamia-nut trees can start bearing a small crop in the fifth year after planting. Under ideal conditions, full production may be reached in 12 to 15 years.

However, trees exposed to severe conditions, such as droughts, disease or windstorms, may take more than 20 years to reach full production. Trees that receive proper care may produce for 40 to 60 years, according to the US International Trade Commission. Occasional pruning is necessary to establish a central leader, to eliminate poor unions between branches, and to remove lower branches to facilitate other cultural and harvest operations.

Report shows that macadamia-nut trees are grown on deep, well-drained soils with a pH of 5.0-6.5 or on well-drained lava land that is sufficiently weathered to support natural vegetation. The trees require 60 to 120 inches of rainfall per year and can be grown from sea level to an elevation of 2,500 feet. In drier locations, supplemental irrigation is needed. Manual labor is needed to monitor and maintain the irrigation systems.

Fields are surveyed for insects, diseases and weeds as part of an integrated pest-management program. Leaf and soil samples are collected several times per year to determine tree and soil nutrient status for subsequent fertilizer or soil-amendments application as needed.

Ilocos farmers to grow Hawaiian macadamia nuts

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