Nut Measurement Project

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In late 2019 the Australian Macadamia Society and the Australian Macadamia Handlers Association provided funding for a project using my nut measurement equipment for the purposes of crop forecasting. Early indicators of the upcoming crop are valuable because they allow the market to prepare in advance for ups and downs in the supply.

It had been noted that variations in the overall industry crop appeared to be correlated with the mass of individual nuts.

Yields v Mass Industry Yields v Mass Alstonville

In some ways this makes sense - if the total number of nuts stays roughly the same then you would expect that the total crop would be affected by the size of the nuts.

There is also a secondary effect concerning ‘kernel recovery’, the proportion of the nut that is edible kernel, which is also known to change from year to year. Again, if everything else stays more or less the same, any changes in kernel recovery should have an effect on overall volume of kernel.

Crunching the numbers from past years, this table estimates sources of variation in total crop.

Sources of Yiled Variation

It shows that between 50% and 80% of yield variation might be predicted by measuring nuts early in the season.

Fortunately the NIS Sorter/Scanner that I had been developing (see panel to left) could be modified to make a visual assessment of nut size and kernel recovery based on immature nuts in January/February, roughly four months before the main crop in May/June. Thus began the project.

Nut Measurement - 2021 Season Planning

For 2021 the plan is to move to an earlier sampling regime in January and also some trials testing the methodology in December.

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Nut Measurement - 2020 Season

The NIS Sorter/Scanner needed to be modified to do the measurements. For the 2020 season there wasn't a lot of time to get this done but a new device better suited to the task was ready in early January...

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