The majority of the annual harvest of almondlots licensed to Growers in AF06, AF07 and AF08 has completed ahead of schedule compared to last year, due to fine weather conditions and a new system of harvesting.
In the past, farm managers waited until all almonds were dry on the tree before shaking. The new technique saves around a fortnight by shaking the trees when all almonds have opened and matured, but not completely dried. Once shaken, the almonds are quickly removed from the orchard for final drying on headlands.
“This two week advantage is critical if wet weather rolls in, as it did in 2014,” said Daryl Winter, RFM National Manager – Almonds.
“This system enabled management to finish the 2015 season earlier and concentrate on other important orchard activities and will definitely be utilised again next season.”
Although final figures are still several weeks away, management is expecting a harvest around 4 tonne per hectare as an average across all projects. There may be some small variations up or down within projects but this is only expected to be minor. In line with last year, RFM expects to distribute returns to Growers in October 2015.
Almond prices remain very strong, driven by tight supply from California which has traditionally produced 80% of the world’s almonds. Californian almondlots featured in a recent ABC 7.30 program which highlighted the crippling drought facing the State.
In Australia, dryer conditions are also forecast with the Bureau of Meteorology reporting that indicators have shown a steady trend towards El Niño levels since the start of the year.
While dry conditions are generally associated with the El Niño phenomenon, the severity of the weather pattern varies. For example, the 2009-10 and 2006-07 occurrences were relatively weak. RFM almond groves are supported by groundwater which has historically been accessible during dry periods.
Get to know your investment – the six stages of the almond lifecycle
|Dormancy||May to July||Almond trees are dormant through the winter months in Australia.|
|Blossom||From late July to early September||Tree rows often in bloom in an alternating pattern due to the multiple varieties inter-planted in the orchard. Bees are used to cross-pollinate the blossom.|
|Maturing Crop||September to December||After the petals fall, fruit begins to grow rapidly. The hulls mature and harden and the kernel begins to increase in weight from the end of this period.|
|Hull Split||From early January||Fruit hull begins to split during summer and the shell becomes visible.|
|Harvest||Usually commencing between February and April||As the nuts reach an acceptable moisture level. Shakers are used to vibrate the tree trunk and then swept before drying.|
|Processing||From May onwards||The hull and shell are removed and further processing includes slivered, sliced, diced and split almonds, left whole or the nuts are ground for almond meal/flour.|
(Source: Almond Board of Australia)
If you have any questions or issues please contact Investor Services on 1800 026 665 or InvestorServices@ruralfunds.com.au