Newsletter Q1 2023
Every quarter we share a newsletter with everyone in the WelMac circle, to keep everyone up to date on the most recent developments within the company and the macadamia industry.
Dear members of the WelMac Circle,
With the harvest in full swing and many exciting new things on the agenda, I am very excited to share this newsletter with you. As some of you know I have had some struggles with my health at the end of last and the beginning of this year, but I am happy to share with you that I am well on the road to recovery and am feeling better every day. Although the path of healing is a long one and scattered with many challenges, I am well underway and facing the challenges with fresh energy and a solid conviction to a positive outcome.
In this newsletter I would like to inform you of the progress of our current harvest, even though we are at the beginning, it is good to see and compare our current results to the years past.
We also would like to share some progress and developments of our staff on the farm as well as our latest Nxchange listing.
We always try and inform the WelMac Circle as much as we can through this newsletter, but if there are subjects you would like to hear more about please feel free to comment through our website or e-mail.
Have a great read!
Harvest from our vegetable garden
WelMac has 2 running vegetable gardens on the farm, we try and grow as much organic produce as we can for the benefit of our employees. Not only can we teach our employees how to grow a lot of their own food from seeds, but the produce from the vegetable gardens is a great little addition to their income. We grow all kinds of food, from beans to corn, but this year also bananas and many other vegetables. We divide the produce equally amongst the workers and try to give them all a small package every week during harvest season.
We also donated a part of the latest harvest to a local charity in Louis Trichardt, called ‘Feed the hungry’. This charity provides food, clothing and other essential goods to less fortunate people in the area.
Growth of our staff
As we are moving more and more into the world of regenerative and sustainable agricultural practises, it is important for our staff to learn as much as they can about this subject. Especially Trichardt and Keagan, who are striving every day to improve our practices on the farm and the nursery. For this purpose, we enrolled Keagan, our nursery and food forest manager, in a Permaculture design course, which was given by Geoff Lawton in South Africa. This resulted in better understanding on how to develop the areas around the orchard, where we are planting our food forests. In the future we will try and pass on as much of this knowledge to our employees and the local population as we can.
Trichardt, our farm manager, enrolled in the courses of Dr Elaine’s ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ and the ‘Soil Food Web Foundation Course’, a specific course focussed on regenerative agricultural practises. It helped him to understand the purpose and function of the microbiology in the soil, its processes and how to maintain this as best as possible to the benefit of our soil and trees. Besides that it has given him valuable insight and knowledge, helping him to be more critical of the use of certain chemicals in our orchards, which most farmers assume essential but are actually detrimental to the soil and tree health in the long run.
All in all, education and development are an important part of the growth of our business and we are very proud of Keagan and Trichardt for broadening their horizons by completing these courses and expanding their knowledge.
Listing on NXchange
The conditions of administration of Stichting Administratiekantoor WelMac have been changed for the purpose of listing the depositary receipts for shares on the trading platform of Nxchange. The amended conditions of administration can be viewed on the website.
These changes needed to be completed before the listing could be finalised, we expect the shares to be listed in the next few weeks
Update from South Africa
Herman Claassens, our COO living in South Africa, has given us a broad update on a few subjects that have been progressing on the farm. Overview of the season to date:
The rain season from September 2022 to date have been a cooler summer period as we have not reached peaks above 40 degrees. Rainfall was over 800mm which is seen as good, the rain spells were small but frequent.
The farm did not receive any hail damage, two big hailstorms did pass very close to Welgevonden which is strange as we are not in an area known for hail.
2. 2022 and 2023 Macadamia price
At the start of the 2022 season the above prices were supplied by the market/processors and as the season came to a close the industry started to raise alarms that prices are slipping to levels shown in the 2023 column. The industry blamed the following:
- Russia/Ukraine war
- Global inflation
- Consumer financial strain
- Oversupply of macadamia
- Limited product development done by industry and role players.
This is the third price drop in more than two decades and after each event the price was on a recovery tract. The same trend is expected, however more and more producers are now starting to focus on taking control of their own product or to become shareholders in processing plants to ensure that they have better insight into the market. This will offer a great opportunity for WelMac to have the produce of other farmers run through our value chain.
3. Current harvest
The harvesting process is going well, due to the low market prices we are making making use of 50% less harvesting people to manage expenses and therefore the season is taking longer. Also, the trees are a little later as we only started to harvest the Beaumont blocks in middle May compared to 2022 when we were already harvesting those blocks at the beginning of the month.
Orchards planted in 2018:
With big anticipation and high expectations, we waited since 2018 for blocks 8,9 and 11 to come into production and this year we are bearing the fruits of hard work and a lot of patience.
Below are photos from those orchards as well as a nut count that we did from random trees.
The nut count above reflects the volume of nuts per tree and when we compare it with the industry average of 457 nuts/tree for the same age group we are confident that these will outperform the industry average. We have started to harvest in these blocks and will be finished by the end of June.
Above is a photo from block 1 which is mature Beaumont which we started to harvest on 22 May, we are expecting a yield above 3t/ha. The indication at this stage is that most of the mature blocks are going to perform in line with their longterm averages.
Quality is a big measurement rule for the 2023 season due to the market constraints and all the processors have implemented strict guidelines and therefore average quality nuts are not taken in at the processors.
At Welmac we are again delivering nuts of a high quality with kernel recovery >30% and unsound below 2.5%.
4. Regenerative farming
In 2021 the production team started a process to reduce the usage of chemicals in the orchard for pest and disease management and to increase the soil health in the orchards.
The aim of this practice is to increase organic matter in the soil that will benefit the root systems of the tree and enable beneficial fungal growth. The end result is a healthier tree that can make optimal use of the nutrients available supplied to the tree through either organic material breakdown or additional nutrients supplied through fertigation.
We brought in the knowledge of Fritz Otto and Hantie Reed who are both specialists in their respective fields relating to plant nutrition, regenerative farming and macadamia production. From their last visit they recommend and support the practices followed and the step by step transition that the farm is making.
All prunings are mulched and put back underneath the tree and partially left in the grassy row between the trees from where the material will breakdown into compost. This is a healthy and cost effective process of improving soil health and making use of the material in the orchard instead of incurring costs to move material out of the orchard that disturbs the soil and material breakdown.
Due to the strict intake measures implemented by the processors our production manager (Trichardt Erasmus ) and workshop manager (Gerhard Oosthuizen) decided to build our own nut cracking machine so that we can crack the second grade nuts. Below is a photo of the unit which is working so well that we partnered with an engineering firm called Annik Engineering to commercially produce the units which will sell for R25,000 and Welmac will get a royalty of R5000/unit sold. The first two units is expected to be delivered before end May 2023.
Our nursery manager, Keagan Truter, is doing an experiment between the macadamia orchards to establish a food forest.
We are incorporating a variety of plants, including fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, and perennial vegetables, the idea behind the food forest is to maximize biodiversity and to create rich beneficial ecological relationships in these areas, while having minimal inputs in the long run. As the food forest evolves and matures, it becomes a valuable educational tool for sharing knowledge and inspiring local communities to adopt similar regenerative systems.
The ultimate goal is to not only harvest nutritious food but also to cultivate thriving ecosystems that enhance the surrounding environment while demonstrating sustainable practices to others.
Name: Tshifularo Tony Gomba
Position: Farming Student – doing my practical
My name is Tshifularo Tony Gomba I grew up in the village Mpeni near Elim.
Since I was a small boy farming interested me and I after Highschool made the decision to study further in that direction. I am currently studying for a Diploma in Agricultural Management at UNISA and hope to achieve my honors degree someday.
How is you experience on Welmac and the farming practices?
Overwhelmed with the acceptance, guidance and help that I received from everybody even management.
I feel Welmac is professional, organized and running smoothly.
Farming practices that I admire is the irrigation systems that is on point with the soluble fertilizers being used to optimize the nutrition and tree health.
We are currently busy with harvesting and I am absorbing a lot of information on nut harvesting, quality, sizing and how through all this how to ensure a harvest for the following year.
Recipe: Macadamia slice!
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
175 g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 cup macadamia nuts chopped roughly
Preheat the oven to 160°C, fan forced.
For the base, grease and line a slice pan with baking paper. Beat the egg and caster sugar until well combined. Add the oil and beat again.
Sift and combine the flours and gently fold into the wet mix.
Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes..
For the topping, place the brown sugar, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat for 5 minutes until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
Simmer for 10 minutes without stirring. Keep the heat low and watch it carefully as it can burn.
Add the macadamias and lightly stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the base, spreading evenly.
Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool the slice in the pan before cutting into 12 slices.