Grafted Macadamia Seedlings in Kenya has become in the recent past a booming business for the plant raisers. As the demand of the nut becomes big on the international market, macadamia farmers in Kenya especially the Mount Kenya regions have experienced enormous profits from the nuts.

A grafted macadamia seedling for sale at Farmers Trend nursery in Kandara – Muranga County

The farming of Grafted macadamia seedlings in Kenya has spread widely among small farmers in  because of the ready market for the nut. Macadamia is mainly used in making butter, cooking oil and cosmetic products such as soaps and shampoos.

Macadamia Farming in Kenya is rapidly becoming the leading 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.

Grafted macadamia seedlings in Kenya account for the bulk of nursery stock, but some nursery raisers use a technique known as budding. This is faster and does not damage root-stock 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 ‘kept’ into plastic bags.

Macadamia Tree Management

Seedling growth, initially slow, gathers momentum as saplings produce a series of extension growth flushes in a year.

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The juvenile phase lasts for 7 years or more, but grafted trees come into bearing after 3 years. The current trend is for high-density hedgerow plantings, which maximize early yields. Inter-row spacing of 10 m is most common (7 m if mechanical pruning is carried out). The distance between rows should be 4-6 m, depending on cultivar and growing conditions.

Correct branching should be induced at an early age after which there should be no further pruning. During the first 2 years, training (a form of corrective pruning) is done to develop a strong, well-balanced framework for future growth.

The young trees should receive careful attention with respect to irrigation, weed control and frost and wind protection.

Mulching is recommended for young trees (when the trees come into bearing, it interferes with nut collection). Fertilizer management should be guided by leaf and soil analysis, the phenological cycle and yield.

Macadamia Usage

Apiculture: Macadamia pollen is very attractive to bees, providing necessary forage for honey production.

Fuel: Macadamia shells may be used as fuel, generating sufficient energy to dry wet, in-shell nuts.

Tannin or dyestuff: The hulls, the green covering of the nuts, contain approximately 14% of substances suitable for tanning leather.

Lipids: Macadamia is the richest oil-yielding nut known. The kernel contains more than 75% oil, suitable for human consumption.

Essential oil: The characteristic, subtle macadamia flavour is probably due to volatile compounds, the major ones being similar to those in other roasted nuts.

Services of Macadamia

Shade or shelter: Macadamia trees makes an excellent evergreen shade and shelter due to its thick crown of leaves.

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Soil improver: The decomposed husk is commonly used in potting soil.

Ornamental: As well as being an evergreen nut-bearing tree, M. integrifolia has good symmetrical shape and when in full bloom is covered with creamy-white and pinkish flowers in long, narrow, drooping racemes. These make it a popular ornamental tree.

Intercropping: Inter-row cropping can be practised with trees such as citrus, if they are removed at 12 years. Macadamia will retard the growth of papaya planted near it.

Export limitations

Section 43 of the AFA Act prohibits export of raw nuts.

The regulation states: “A person shall not export raw cashewnuts, pyrethrum, bixa, macadamia or any other agricultural product as may be prescribed, except with the written authority of the Cabinet Secretary.”

The regulation was aimed at empowering local processors, creating jobs and improving farmers’ earnings

 

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