T&T Horticulture Reaches New Heights in Africa
Perseverance and persistent quality are two of the attributes that contributed the success of T&T Horticulture in Zambia. From the first shipment two years ago, more than 60 000 macadamia trees supplied by T&T have gone into the ground in this country. So successful have T&T been at stimulating interest in growing macadamias that a satellite nursery has been established there to grow out future shipments from the KZN based nursery.
Producing trees for export is challenging enough, but overcoming the vast road distance, with frequent delays on the way with little or no comebacks takes some doing. What is the secret to the success?
Supplying Young Macadamia Trees of the Highest Quality
The macadamia trees sold into Zambia arrived in such good condition that their establishment success rate has been over 99%. The advantage of receiving such high-quality macadamia trees that are so healthy gives enormous confidence to farmers who are establishing orchards in this country.
Orchards of macadamia trees are planted in rows in excess of one kilometre long, responding well to the climate and growing conditions of the area.
This has given farmers great confidence in the crop, bearing in mind the high costs involved in establishing macadamia orchards. T&T has taken great care to ensure that every step is planned in small detail, from the plants themselves, to the transportation and the after sales service. Their policy to treat each customer as if they were family is shown in the frequency of visits made to this remote area. It involves a 9-hour journey after landing in Lusaka, giving training to the farm workers in the management of the young trees.
With no compromise on quality and the back-up service the establishment success rate has been near perfect. Farmers are very enthusiastic about the partnership. S much so that it’s has led to the establishment grow-out nursery there. This means many more trees can be shipped at a time, as they are younger and smaller, thereby reducing the transport cost per unit. Young trees are ready for shipment 12 months after sowing at the KwaZulu Natal nursery.
The nurserymen at the Zambia grow-out nursery have been trained in macadamia nursery management, systems have been put in place, and daily feedback is sent to T&T to help manage the progress of the remote satellite nursery. It also means that trees are on the ground are available for inspection by would-be new farmers in Zambia, who can monitor and see the progress of their trees for themselves. This also builds confidence and trust in the supply chain.
What to Look for In a Young Macadamia Tree
Now that Zambian farmers can inspect their orders themselves is very important, as an understanding of the young trees’ development give insight into future management and development. It also will give new growers the security they need that they are investing their money wisely.
There are a number of key indicators that need to be checked when inspecting a young macadamia tree. Customers would respect the intellectual property of the grower but are quite within their rights to enter the shaded areas of a nursery. Here the following should be inspected:
A healthy, vigorous root system is the first indicator. Ask the nurseryman to assist exposing the roots in the bag and look at the root density and penetration in the growing medium.
The growing medium itself should be well hydrated and firm, giving stability to the development of the tree. This can be checked by lifting the plant itself when it’s in the bag to check the firmness of the medium. To be sure of the root development you may want check for root distortion, which in nursery terms is called j-root indicting the shape of the root. This can only be done by exposing the root system completely, which would mean removing the plant from the bag and washing the growing medium off the roots.
Better knowing this as any defects here could slow down the growth rate of macadamia trees or even cause them to die.
Uniformity is key. Essentially the trees should all have healthy, shiny leaves. Stems should be straight and strong, with two or more hardened flushes. While some varieties are greener than others the ones that do well in Zambia are Beaumonts, which have a dark green colour. No signs of imperfections should be apparent, and of course be free of insect damage.
The Way Forward
With this sound base and good track record, T&T partnerships with farmers in Zambia will continue t grow. This is largely because of the consistent quality of trees that it produces, the excellent timeframes their growing methods offer clients, and the backup service the Company provides.
With a grow-out nursery n the ground in Zambia customers will have the confidence they are looking for when making this expensive investment. With the future f the macadamia industry looking bright, its predicted that we will see a lot of new macadamia orchard development in the not-too-distant future.