A recent meeting of minds at the Queensland Government’s Maroochy Research Facility has increased knowledge on best practice propagation of Macadamia.
Representatives from six native plant nurseries from across south east Queensland attended a half-day workshop coordinated by the Macadamia Conservation Trust, Healthy Land and Water (HLW), the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAFFI).
Presentations in the conference room by Dr Bruce Topp (QAFFI) and Liz Gould (HLW) were followed by a visit to the orchard to examine the four Macadamia species, and a variety of cultivars and hybrids. QAFFI’s Dr Mobashwer Alam outlined the Macadamia breeding program and showed participants how to take cuttings for propagation, then in the nursery, led a hands-on session on preparing and potting-up cuttings. Mr David Bell from Hidden Valley Plantations provided important information on commercial propagation methods which were extremely useful to the group.
Participants learnt of the issues affecting wild populations of macadamia and why they are threatened, and also the outcomes of recent research into population genetics and propagation techniques. A key message was that propagation of wild Macadamia trees by cutting is preferred in many circumstances to propagation by seed; which is contrary to standard practice in many native plant nurseries.
Communication was not all one-way, however, and the knowledge and experience shared by nursery industry staff will lead to improvements in QAFFI’s propagation practices. This “free exchange of ideas and knowledge” was the best part of the workshop for some, and all reflected that they had learnt something new to incorporate into their work practices and share with others.
One participant commented, “I think the workshop was terrific – from the talks in the room, then looking at the specimens in the ground and propagation techniques – was good coverage.”
The Trust hopes to hold more practical workshops on conservation of wild populations of Macadamia. These workshops and the other work of the Macadamia Conservation Trust, such as surveys of wild trees, genetic research and onground conservation, would not be possible with the support of the macadamia industry and sponsorship from companies such as the Macadamia Processing Company (MPC) and partners Pacific Gold Macadamias and Macadamia Marketing International (MMI).
“We are delighted to continue our support to the Trust and to enable such practical conservation outcomes for wild trees”, said MPC’s General Manager, Steve Lee.
“Conservation of wild trees is critical to the sustainable future of our industry.”
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the Hort Innovation macadamia research and development levy, co-investment from the Macadamia Conservation Trust, Australian Macadamia Society and Healthy Land and Water and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.
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