- Amorentia Estate
- Amorentia Ornamental Nursery
- Avocado Nursery
- Macadamia Nursery
- Sweet Dragon Fruit Nursery
One can understand the sometimes strange reasons why we call things by the names that we do, when we look into the folklore of the day and the stories that have been passed down generation to generation. To someone who has never seen or tasted a Pitaya, hearing the word “Dragon Fruit” for the first time, immediately conjures up images of great, fiery power and mysticism. The thought that if one ate a “dragon fruit”, it would become a great big ball of fire in your mouth and possibly even turn you into a heap of ashes, one could understand the almost crazy notion of it all!!
And no, a Pitaya or Dragon Fruit (by its common name), will not become a fireball in your mouth! On the contrary, Dragon Fruits are one of the most beneficial foods to eat! Their health and beauty benefits are such that it was classified a Super-food in 2013.
Occurring naturally in the America’s, the Dragon Fruit is a broad-leafed cactus-type vine and usually thrives in sub-tropical regions. Of late, and due to its health and beauty properties, it is now being commercially grown in many regions, including South Africa. The Dragon Fruit is an oval shaped fruit bound by a soft, leathery skin that forms “scales”. The inner flesh is exotic and exquisite! Intense hues of white, reds, magentas, deep pinks and psychedelic burgundy-red to cerise-pink cultivars with minute black specs, which are the seeds, are available in South Africa! Without a doubt, this fruit is every dessert fundi’s dream come true!
Come up Trumps and tell your Doctor: “You’re Fired!”
The health and beauty properties of Dragon Fruit is so extensive, that this fruit should be the number one item in the shopping basket of any shopper who is serious about eating right! Here are a few of the benefits:-
• The red fleshed varieties contain lycopene. Lycopene is a natural antioxidant known to fight cancer, heart disease and lowers blood pressure. It has also garnered the focus of recent research for its connection to anti-aging and UV skin protection.
• Despite its sweet taste, Dragon Fruit lowers blood sugar levels and helps with the treatment of diabetes.
• Dragon Fruit strengthens bones and teeth by increasing the bone density. It helps in the formation of cell membranes and heals bruises and wounds faster.
• It strengthens the immune system and promotes healthy blood and tissue formation
• Dragon Fruits contain beneficial vitamins and minerals which are essential for a healthy body which includes- vitamin B1, B2, B3, Calcium, iron and phosphorus. They are also rich in anti-oxidants, polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotene and protein. And the seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids.
• The fruit aids respiratory problems, promotes eye health, prevents anaemia and lowers cholesterol.
• Eaten regularly, Dragon Fruit helps shed unwanted weight.
With this kind of impact on your day-to-day health, who is going to need a Doctor!?
Amorentia leads the way! More
Macadamia growers (especially those who are new to Macadamia farming) often question the differences between the root systems of vegetative clonal rooted-cuttings (VPs) versus seedling rootstocks. The answer is simple; VPs will produce a more even orchard due to the consistency of genetics and they offer a superior root-system when propagated by superior nurseries with experience.
It is true that not all cultivars root well on their own rootstocks in which case either a seedling or a clonal rootstock is required for grafting.
Amorentia customers give consistent feedback confirming what is already known at Amorentia – their Beaumont VPs are of excellent quality and show evidence of high yield early because they are well rooted and because their genetic material is superior.
High yielding nursery trees come from excellent mother-material.
Through its Plant-Improvement Scheme, the Amorentia Macadamia Nursery Beaumont mother-trees, (as well as all other cultivars) were monitored for high performance over a 15 year period. This exercise ensured that only high yielding trees remain in the mother-blocks. This was achieved by weighing the nuts from each mother-tree and removing all poor performing trees. It means that the genetic material used for all propagation at Amorentia offers growers a high-yield potential from day 1. It also means that the Nursery has 100% control over their propagation procedures.
Amorentia Macadamia Nursery hosts a memorable Orchard management workshop
On Tuesday the 11th of September 2018, Amorentia Macadamia Nursery hosted an Orchard Management workshop which was attended by nearly 60 farmers.
The day kicked off at 9 am with a visit to Chris Dando’s farm. Philip Lee and Stephan Schoeman, two renowned and experienced Macadamia consultants were in attendance to share their knowledge of Macadamia tree Orchard management. The workshop’s format was designed to encourage open discussions about orchard management.
The farmers had the opportunity to visit a large, beautiful 10-month-old Beaumont orchard which had been planted with trees from Amorentia Macadamia Nursery – planting-out protocols and young tree management was discussed in great detail. Some traditional and some more modern techniques were considered and debated, the consensus was that each grower should adopt methods that suit their management style.
The next orchard was a 3-year-old A4 orchard, also with trees planted from Amorentia Macadamia Nursery. It was interesting to learn about A4 pruning techniques, and encouraging to see the trees in excellent condition and full of flower – an indication of good management practices by Chris and good nursery mother material.
The procession of bakkies headed to Merensky High School where 4-year-old Amorentia Beaumont orchard on ridges were visited – the cost vs benefit of ridging macadamias was debated and the workshop attendees were lucky enough to witness a ridge dug in half for a closer look at the root development. The 15-year-old Merensky trial block as also visited. Philip was involved in the planting and monitoring of the trial block, it was interesting to learn which cultivars outperformed the others.
Lunch was served at the Amorentia Estate and Nursery offices were Graeme Whyte from Green Farm Nut Company addressed the growers and gave an update on the current international macadamia market – and the message was clear – plant more Macadamias!
Finally, the growers were treated to a walk around Amorentia Macadamia Nursery with a final discussion on mature tree light management (pruning). All the farmers found the day extremely helpful and informative which ended with a lekker South African Braai!
PART 2 of the Beaumont History –
In 1971 and again in 1975, Prof Dick Hamilton visited Len in South Africa to select which cultivars he would send to South Africa to test in trial blocks. This was an important exercise in determining suitable cultivars for various regions. Len and the Prof travelled to Malawi, Zimbabwe, the Lowveld, (joined by Peter Allan) Swaziland and the coastal areas of Natal. It was on this trip that Len realised the importance of testing the quality of Macadamia kernel in determining its suitability for commercial use. Len and the Prof spent time analysing test results from the Hawaii selections and Len was delighted that Beaumont proved to produce a high quality kernel. Prof Dick still discarded the cultivar for the reason that it needed to be tree-harvested. Len was determined to overcome this challenge and when the first South African Beaumont orchards started to produce a crop, successful harvesting techniques were developed by Len and the team at Amorentia Estate and Nursery.
These became the protocols which now enable our industry to successfully harvest Beaumont using ethapon. Ethapon, now a registered product on Macadamias, is sprayed on Beaumont trees at a rate of 750 – 1000 ppm once the crop is ready for harvest. Amorentia Macadamia Nursery is extremely proud of the role it played in shaping the history of the South African Macadamia industry. It was also under Len’s guidance that Amorentia Nursery began its own propagation of Beaumont (and other Macadamia cultivars).
Situated in an incredible micro-climate just outside of Tzaneen, Limpopo, Amorentia Nursery propagates Macadamias, Avocados, Dragon Fruit and a wide variety of other fruit trees and ornamental plants. When visiting the nursery, its 70 years of horticultural history is evident – particularly the 45 years of macadamia vegetative clonal propagation.
The recent growth of the South African Macadamia industry has prompted another expansion phase at Amorentia Macadamia nursery meaning it will soon have the capacity for 400,000 vegetatively propagated clonal rooted-cuttings (VPs) and nearly 400,000 mature trees. 70% of its production remains Beaumont VPs.
As South Africa’s position in the global production of macadamias strengthens, role-players are asking important questions about cultivar choice and root-stock performance. A good farmer knows 1 thing – that successful macadamia production begins with excellent nursery trees and nursery tree quality is determined by 2 elements:
- Superior Root-stocks
- Excellent Mother-material
VP propagation is uncommon in the Macadamia nursery industry in South Africa and grafted seedlings are more widely used and understood. VPs produce a more even orchard due to consistency of genetics and they have a superior root-system when propagated by superior nurseries with experience. Following good practice protocols ensures excellent results.
After the Camellia sasanqua has flowered in autumn, the Camellia japonica takes centre stage in winter. When everything else in the garden is dull, the Camellia japonica adds splashes of pink, red, white and mixed or variegated colours. For the remaining months of the year, these shapely, hardy evergreen shrubs, boast glossy foliage and are great garden fillers when planted either alone or en masse.
Depending on the cultivar, the japonica grows in a wide range of climates from subtropical to bitterly cold hills. There certainly is a romantic charm about the Camellia. Most garden enthusiasts admire them and all good gardeners know that the winter rose needs specific growing conditions:
· During bud and flower formation, camellias need regular water but don’t want to be soaked.
· If you are growing camellia in a pot, don’t let the pot stand in water and let the mixture be well-drained.
· When it’s very hot, keep the roots cool.
· Camellias don’t like direct sunlight – their leaves and buds can be sun burned easily yet they need just enough dappled light (not gloom) for bud and flower formation to take place.
· Camellias are a little bit fussy when it comes soil PH – they like it to be 5.5 to 6.5 – not too much more acidic and at least neutral but not higher than 7.
· Disbudding during flowering, ensures the remaining buds gain more of the plant’s energy meaning the existing flowers and shrubs will last longer and grow bigger.
· Pruning your camellias in early spring is advisable if you want to control the plant’s size.
· Keeping an eye on pests and disease is the Bain in any gardener’s life. Luckily with Camellias, the list is fairly short. Keep your eyes peeled for scale, blossom blight and sooty mould.
The Camellia’s selection of blooms is vast – the species encompasses many flower forms or styles within the selection of cultivars:
· Semi Double
· Anemone form
· Peony form
· Rose form
· Formal double
Within each form, there is a multiplicity of shades of whites, pinks, reds and yellows and variegations and the displays are breathtakingly impressive.
There is a reason why Beaumont (HAES 695) has become the clear leader in cultivar choice in South Africa. A deeper look into the history of the cultivar explains why this is so and why Amorentia Macadamia Nursery chooses to produce hundreds of thousands of Beaumont trees each year.
During the 1930s, thousands of Macadamia cultivars were trialled in Hawaii in search of the highest quality nuts for a commercial industry. The trials were headed by Prof. Bill Storey and followed by Prof. Dick Hamilton. A new Australian selection, NSW44, which was numbered 695 in the HAES gene bank, (later to be given the name Beaumont) was rejected for its inability to naturally drop its own crop. It had passed all other quality tests conducted by the University of Hawaii.
Above: Len’s slide photograph of the John H Beaumont Agricultural research centre in Hawaii
Len Hobson, a well-loved horticulturist in South Africa is known for having pioneered the Macadamia Industry here and for having developed the Papino ® too. During a visit to California for a citrus symposium in 1968, Len visited an important Macadamia trial-planting. Among the trees planted there was the HAES 695 selection. Len also visited the first commercial planting of 695 belonging to the chairman of the Californian Macadamia Society (Col. Wells Miller). Len recalls that the young trees were laden with nuts. After visiting both sites, Len fall in love with Beaumont and he began the preparation to import some material to South Africa.
Once Len had established the 695 mother material in his nursery, he immediately experimented with clonal propagation and realised the importance to pursue the cultivar for commercial use. In his record keeping, he noted that a high quality rootstock coupled with an above – average kernel (and an exceptionally precocious nature) must be a winner if vegetatively propagated properly.
In 1968 I attended a Citrus symposium in Riverside near Los Angeles Calif. I met some Australians and immediately asked them all about Macadamias. We organised a “Macadamia Trip” and Bill Storey took a small group of 4 or 5 to meet the California Macadamia Society. This was in about October of 1968. The Aussies knew him as he had recently been visiting them on Macs.
He was the world’s worst driver stationed now in California after his stint in Hawaii. He was involved in selection work while in Hawaii. While on this work he visited Australia so knew much of the areas where Macs were then grown. Bill brought over quite a few promising selections that went into the HAES gene bank. One of these selections was NSW44 that was given the HAES no 695.
Via Doc (v.d.Meulen) I was in touch with Prof Dick Hamilton (Then Dr R.A. Hamilton) on Papaya (Papino®) and Dick continued with most of the selection work on Macs in Hawaii for many years followed by Phil Ito (now too retired).
We met up with Col. Wells Miller then president of the CMS and Cliff Tanner a board member. Wells showed us his orchard and cracker and gave us each a tin of the Royal Hawaiian (now Mauna Loa) nuts. When I tasted the nuts my first reaction was that it was a fantastic product with vast marketing potential. I was sold on the crop.
We then visited the Southern Californian variety block where all the HAES varieties were growing and there was no doubt that Beaumont stood out as far as the nearly mature crop was concerned.
By the time we arrived at Cliff Tanner’s orchard we were all extremely tired and hot with frayed nerves from Bills driving. Cliff first showed us his magnificent tubs of Cymbidium orchards in full flower as a ’pick-me-up’ and then we went to the Beaumont (695,NSW44) orchard. It was a young orchard then and it was laden with nuts. During this visit he advised me to introduce it to South Africa and offered to send me some scion wood in due course. This trip was a turning point for me as immediately I ‘fell in love’ with the product and the variety.
Back at home I asked Dr Johan Grobler of the Research Station to import the graft wood to which he agreed. The condition was that I could arrange everything, but the scions had to go into the quarantine station at Stellenbosch 2 years until with special dispensation we could take it to Nelspruit. After the 2 years, if it was clean, then it had to be multiplied so that everyone who asked for some plants could receive the material. So only when there were enough plants to supply everyone who applied, could I receive my 2 plants? I understood the quarantine requirement, which is essential, but I never understood the logic behind an enterprising person having to wait for everyone else’s benefit. It had something to do with everyone being treated equally and no one should be a jump ahead of anyone else, they tried to explain.
I, immediately on my return, as luck would have it, applied to Pretoria for the necessary permits to import the graft wood. Remember there were sanctions at the time so I had to have Reserve Bank clearance, not that any currency was involved, before a phyto-import permit could be granted. This was to stop money fleeing the country during the apartheid regime.
Now old Cliff Tanner was a doer, and not a talker, and so he simply posted the graft wood to me at Letaba by air parcel post without my knowledge.
All hell broke loose and the next thing I had Grobler on the phone giving me 1000 words! They threatened me with jail. Customs had picked up the graftwood at Jan Smuts Airport. I could explain it all satisfactorily in the end. The necessary red tape was completed and the parcel went to Stellenbosch and then to Nelspruit where all the subsequent events took their course. I remember a few years later collecting my 2 plants together with a car load of plants for others, amongst which were 2 for the Loughar-Clarks in Georges Valley.
Amorentia Estate and Amorentia Macadamia Nursery hosted a macadamia tree pruning training day this week. One of our growers requested that we run the session to help train his staff. The day was a great success and they all left with a wealth of knowledge. Young macadamia tree training and mature macadamia tree pruning is an essential part of macadamia orchard management.