Commercial macadamia farmers are taking tips from small-scale producers in Limpopo’s Vhembe region who plant their trees at wider spacings, some as much as 10m apart.
Vegetables are planted between the rows of trees. The vegetables give these farmers a more regular income, while they wait for the annual macadamia harvest. Because the trees are so far apart, there is also little or no competition for sunlight between the trees, which also improves yields.
The vegetables and natural vegetation between trees also make for a more diverse habitat for insects, especially predatory insects that reduce insect pressure on the macadamia trees.
This has resulted in there being far fewer stinkbugs in these orchards than commercial orchards. Stinkbugs are the primary insect pest of macadamias. Commercial farmers are now also planting cover crops between their trees, ranging from wild grasses to basil, which provide a habitat for natural predators.