The History of Beaumont in South Africa – Part 2

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.

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