Macadamia production is growing in the Southern Cape- South Africa

While KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga are better known for their macadamia orchards, Hardus Knoetze and his wife Annelie stuck to what they knew when they bought the farm Geluksdal in the Groot Brakrivier region in 2003.

Having farmed in the Levubu area in Limpopo province, the couple was familiar with macadamia cultivation, but a visit to Hawaii convinced them the crop would do well in the Cape as the climatic conditions in the two areas are so similar.

The Groot Brakrivier region, which stretches from Port Elizabeth in the east to Cape Town and beyond in the west, is completely new to macadamia production. More than 317ha were planted up by the end of 2018 and about 106ha of that planted in 2018 alone.

The Knoetzes started their plantings in 2006 and were the very first to set up a commercial plantation so far south.

“The Southern Cape is a completely new production area for macadamias and because of that, we had to do a lot of research,” Knoetze said.

“In Limpopo, anything grows, while here the young trees need constant attention. We don’t have proven results for aspects such as cultivar performance, fertilisation norms and phenological periods. At the moment we are adapting the successful practices used in other production areas.”

Hardus Knoetze, the first farmer who planted macadamias commercially in the Southern Cape.
As a result, a great deal of groundwork and soil preparation was necessary before the Geluksdal trees were planted.

“We are very fortunate to have good, deep soil, but it was impoverished and compacted. We had to apply lots of lime, phosphates and gypsum. Analysis-based pH and phosphate corrections were also made,” he said.

The best soils in the Cape are gray sandy and sandy loam soils mixed with clay or shale, which are known to release salts.

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