Grafted Macadamia trees

Macadamia is rapidly becoming the leading Kenyan money maker crop but in order to make money from it you need to have your farming methods right. Grafted macadamia are becoming  more popular due to their fast growth rate and increased production. Macadamias are particularly difficult to graft and it was not until the mid-twentieth century that Queensland farmer, Norman Greber, after many failed attempts, successfully grafted M.integrifolia using a simple side graft.

In today’s nurseries the whip-graft is more commonly used. Generally, M.integrifolia is grafted onto M.tetraphylla rootstock. 

Grafted trees account for the bulk of nursery stock, but some breeders use a technique known as budding. This is faster and does not damage rootstock if unsuccessful, but is more difficult and more sensitive to weather conditions. For punch-budding, a special tool is used to make precise incisions. Both techniques are employed to improve the rate of growth and to increase nut production.

Seedlings are easy to germinate. When they reach 5 cm in height and have two or more leaves they are potted into plastic bags.

In an interview with a local radio station an expert from former KARI(Kenya Agricultural Research Institute)-Kandara current KALRO (Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organisation)-Kandara elaborated on grafted macadamia farming.

KARLO is selling grafted macadamia tree seedling for Ksh 200 and farmers are also advised to pay them a visit to also learn how to do the grafting themselves and have business in selling the trees. The macadamia trees are supposed to be planted 7.5m apart in one line and the lines should be 7.5m wide. Well kept grafted trees produce between 50 to 80kg per harvest. Farmers are advised to wait for macadamia to fall to avoid having poor quality nuts.

A big emerging problem of brokers making farmers climb and shake trees has affected the competitiveness of Kenyan macadamia in the world market as it gives immature poor quality nuts. "This habit also leads to having less harvest in the following season for the farmer", explains KARLO expert.

During dehusking, drying should be done under shade not direct to sunlight to avoid overheating of the nuts.

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