Big yields for Aussie nut growers
Fresh Australian walnuts and almonds are on their way to market, with the 2021 harvest reaching completion this month. Reports from nut growers around the country suggest that 2021 will be another strong year for walnuts, with levels of production similar to 2017’s record harvest of 13,000 tonnes. Almond growers have also seen a good yield – predicted to be around 120,000 tonnes, approximately eight percent higher than 2020.
Walnut production in Australia is growing rapidly, with the industry set to crack the $95M mark, in terms of total value of production, by 2030. President of the Australian Walnut Industry Association Michele Valier says Australian walnut production continues to increase as young trees come into production and more new areas are planted.
“Around 40 percent of Australian-grown walnuts are exported,” he says. “We’re seeing this increase thanks to our ability to provide a reliable and premium quality supply of walnuts into the northern hemisphere markets in their off-season.”
Nuts for health
Walnuts are growing in popularity as a plant-based source of protein. They also contain many nutrients which can contribute to a healthy immune system. These include a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Research has also shown that eating a handful of walnuts (30g) a day as part of a healthy diet can promote heart health, improve cholesterol and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, with no effect on body weight.
“They’re versatile, too,” Valier says. “You can add walnuts to your cakes, bread, salads, pasta, soups and risotto to add texture and a nutritional boost. Choosing fresh, Australian-grown walnuts will also ensure a sweeter flavour.”
Big almond harvest after tough year
Australia is the world’s second largest producer of almonds behind California. May coincides with the end of our almond harvest season. Almond Board of Australia Market Development Manager Joseph Ebbage says that this year’s good crop stemmed from a very productive pollination season last August.
“Industry was able to work with multiple state governments during COVID travel restrictions to ensure beekeepers could continue transporting hives to our orchards,” Ebbage says. “Particularly those needing to restore their hives after the devastating 2019–20 bushfires.”
Bees are essential for pollination that produces almonds and many other foods. In fact, the transport of bees to pollination sites creates our country’s largest mass migration of livestock. Yep, bees are classified as livestock. Over the summer just passed, nut growers have also enjoyed ideal conditions, resulting in kernels of excellent quality and size.
A feast for the eyes
“Most people won’t be familiar with the seasonal cycle of almond trees and how modern almond harvesting happens,” Ebbage says. “But it’s quite a stunning visual spectacle. During July and August, Australia’s almond orchard trees transform from their cold weather dormancy into rows of beautiful blossoms. All in readiness for the bees to cross-pollinate the flowers and set the hull and kernel growth in motion during spring and summer.”
Almond growers are less reliant on seasonal labour, as the industry is highly mechanised. This means the current horticultural labour shortages have not had a significant impact on this year’s almond harvest. Between late February and April, a special “shaker” machine with two extendable arms clamps the trunk of the tree. This delivers a short vibration through the branches to detach the nuts from the stems.
For more on Australian almonds, including nutritional benefits as well as almond-based recipes, head to australianalmonds.com.au