Newsletter Q2 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 season coming to an end we always reflect on the season past. This is the time to see if all our efforts in the field lead to a better harvest as well as a better balance with the environment. So we measure all the data of our harvest, Nut in Shell (NIS) both ‘dry and wet’, but also in husk to see how much weight the tree has put in protecting its nuts, as well as many other things. Some of this data can lead us to better understanding what the results are from things we have done in the past. For example we saw that last years ‘Wet Nut In Husk’ weight was almost in line with 2018-2019, which was a good harvest, but the weight of Kernel and Nut In Shell was much lower than expected. This means the tree was still under stress, which makes them put a lot of energy in making thick husks to protect their nuts. This could be result from using certain crop protection products, influence from certain pests, but also temperature and rainfall.
Even though we are not completely done picking up all the nuts, we can already say that in terms of volume this will be our biggest harvest to date. The quality of our nuts are again among the best in the region as well as our volume per hectare. Herman Claassens, our COO, will provide further insights in this years harvest in this newsletter, but I can say that we are happy to see that our efforts and improved practices are paying off and our young hectares are exceeding our expectations in their first significant year of production.
We have also had our shareholders meeting on the 30th of July, which is always a great moment to touch base with our shareholders and share plans of the future and results of the past. We are pleased to say all items that were voted on were passed unanimously and the confidence in the board of WelMac is as strong as ever.
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 email to email@example.com
Have a great read!
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.
1. Season feedback
The 2023 season performed above expectation in terms of quality and yield. The yield in all the mature blocks were slightly above the long-term average per block. In the previous newsletter we touched on the expectations for the 2018 developments as our expectation was 1.000kg WNIS and all three blocks exceeded that.
Block 8 – 1.300 kg/ha
Block 9 – 1.790 kg/ha
Block 11 – 2.080 kg/ha
Note that block 8 has more smaller trees due to trees that we had to replace over the years. The yield however from all three blocks are well above industry norms in terms of both yield and quality. The table below gives a summary of the harvest volumes:
Please note that the 180,902kg DNIS excludes the current +-39.459kg WNIS that is in the nut shed in process of drying.
The 2023 is the biggest harvest yet for Welgevonden and under normal conditions the volumes are expected to increase year on year with the young trees reaching maturity as they are coming into production.
The processors applied extremely strict quality requirements for the current season, and we are happy to confirm that again the quality from Welgevonden was superior with a breakdown as follows:
- Total Kernel recovery: 34,07%
- Sound kernel recovery: 32,4%
- Unsound kernel recovery: 1,67%
Welmac again performed well above the region average.
2. Operational feedback
Harvesting finished on 11 July and the production team is now busy with the following:
- Post harvest cleanup (checking for nuts that were missed during harvesting);
- Sanitising process to prevent early pests; and
- Removal of sticker nuts.
Pruning is an integral part of production as it allows for productive growth, and we have found that by allowing more sunlight into the trees we reduce the risk of fungal infection. We made use of a pruning contractor which is more cost effective and works at a quicker pace than our own staff.
All the pruning material is mulched and spread under the trees as a key part of our regen practice.
The first flowers have started to emerge, therefore the 2024 season has officially started and the first foliar spray has already been done.
Fertigation: Liquid lime is applied through the drip irrigation to correct soil Ph and assist with calcium availability to the trees.
Each growth stage has a specific nutrient requirement, and we follow that process to ensure cost effective optimal production.
Disease control: Sanitation of trees canopy and pruning wounds with a biological carbonate spray solution that stops infections and kills the undeveloped spores from disease causing fungus and bacteria.
Thereafter covering pruning wounds and flowers with a Trichoderma fungi spray. Trichoderma is a beneficial fungus which will colonise these areas and will seal off the pruning wounds as well as the flowers to protect against disease.
Pest control: Thrips is our main pest in the flower season causing a lot of damage and effecting nut set. Scouting for thrips is now a day-to-day task and we need to act as soon as numbers pick up.
Our control for thrips consists of a wipe out spray of Beauveria Bassiana which is a beneficial fungi that is fatal to pests and the introduction of predatory mites called Montdorensis to suppress the thrip numbers throughout the flowering and nut set timeframe.
Regenerative farming: We are committed to the expansion of the regenerative practices as well as reducing our dependency on synthetic products. This is an ongoing practise with the mulching of the pruning material and converting the nut husk into compost.
The registered biological pest and disease product range is expanding year on year and the effectiveness of the products is improving as well. All the products mentioned under pest and disease control are biological and environmentally friendly.
In the previous newsletter we touched on the cracking machine that was designed and built by our workshop. The demand for that unit has exceeded our expectations and to date 15 units have been sold with more orders coming in.
The partnership with Annik Engineering in Louis Trichardt was therefore a good decision as they can produce high volumes of the machine and give proper back up service.
Maintenance is an ongoing process on the farm to ensure all the equipment is well maintained. All the machinery is serviced in-house to reduce costs and to ensure consistent maintenance.
We added a new mulcher to the equipment fleet which is a welcome addition as the unit works very effectively and has lower maintenance costs when compared to the existing mulcher in terms of replacement part costs which will be a benefit in the long run.
4. Albasini nursery
We are excited about some new promising cultivars that are performing very well in Australia. We are working with Citrogold and are licensed to propagate these new cultivars. These new cultivars have the potential to lift the yield and quality per hectare and may be good alternatives to the current popular cultivars. The trials of these cultivars in South Africa are still in their early days but look promising. We have been focusing on improving the root structure and root growth of our trees in the nursery by finetuning our process and we are seeing good results and getting good feedback from our customers. We are preparing to diversify in the trees/crops that we produce in the nursery and have trial vegetable seedlings, avocados, and guavas and have a good idea on what is necessary should we decide to do larger scale production for each of the above.
Due to a lower price in the nut market, we have halted planting seeds for the time being, we have reduced the size of the team working in the nursery and are using the employees to help with the 2022-2023 harvest on Welmac.
Due to the price challenges of macadamia, we hired in only 30 seasonal staff compared to 60 in the previous seasons. What was extraordinary is that we harvested our biggest harvest to date in a shorter time by doing the following:
- Making use of all our permanent staff to assist with the harvesting and de-husking.
- Hiring in only seasonal staff who have worked on Welgevonden in the previous seasons and maintained an excellent work record.
- Proper planning, communication and motivating of all the staff and their respective teams.
We are busy with a long-term project to implement clear job descriptions and performance management with the aim of:
- Ensuring all staff are in the right roles and have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
- Assisting with training/guidance where needed.
- Improving the general work environment.
- Improving productivity.
This is a slow process, but we have already reaped the benefits just with the current harvest and we are confident that the process will benefit the business as well as each individual staff member.
The vegetable project is an ongoing project where we plant the following produce (depending on season):
Through the month we are able to hand out vegetables to each staff member to supplement a meal for their family.
The August to September months is a fire risk period as the bush is dry due to the winter and therefore good fire prevention practices are applied. We have already made fire breaks along our border areas, and we have a trained fire prevention team with equipment as part of our normal workforce.
We are based in a summer rainfall region, therefore any rainfall during the winter period is welcome as it supplies much needed water during a dry period. We did receive small rain spells during the winter to date.
We did our yearly Global G.A.P recertification on 12 June 2023. Liza van Zyl together with Trichardt Erasmus spent the afternoon with the auditor and showed him the improvements and continuous working standard that we uphold on the farm and we obtain our accreditation without any findings. We are proud of our workforce for always upholding our standards.
During our annual shareholders meeting held at our head office in the Netherlands on June 30th 2023 management presented the 2022 annual accounts in concept to our shareholders who adopted and approved the financial statements.
Our auditors are currently completing their final review and were expect the full audit with another unqualified opinion to be competed by mid august.
Once the final audit has been completed we will upload the 2022 annual financial statements to the “Downloads” section of our website (https://www.welmac.nl/downloads-terms-conditions).
To prevent unnecessary compaction access paths are very important, above is a rough idea of the path system. Sun positioning has been mapped throughout the year to ensure larger plants/trees do not block sunlight in the future.
Floor cover is very important, mulching over the growing areas helps protect the soil beneath. This also creates a moist environment to ensure biology can thrive. We are making use of cut grass from surrounding areas as well as any other waste we can source to provide an initial cover. Over time we will establish a living ground cover consisting of plants like strawberries and sweet potatoes.
The terrain in which we are planting has two main features, a water path that runs through it, in the summer months it becomes muddy and waterlogged, and a swale to catch rain water higher up on the slope in the rainy season. In the design below certain plants that favour more wet conditions, will be planted closer to the Wet zone.
Orange dots are bananas, blue is sugarcane.
Variety is welcomed, different plants serve different purposes, and so we mix and match as much as possible.
In this picture we have bananas, Litchi trees as well as num-num shrubs. They can be planted together without competing for resources. Litchi trees need full sun and well-drained soil, while bananas can tolerate partial shade and less-fertile soil. Litchi trees also have a shallow root system, while banana roots are deep and extensive. This means that the two trees will not compete for water or nutrients. Num-num is a versatile plant that is native to south Africa, it has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil thus improving soil fertility.
Strawberry plants and clover will be added to this mix to provide ground cover.
Pathways and mulching
Cardboard can be used to suppress weeds and will decompose eventually Along the outside of our system we have planted Vetiver grass, it is know to help with soil erosion due to its extensive root system but will serve the main purpose of providing organic matter when trimmed back. It will also prevent unwanted weed growth and reduce maintenance around the fence.
Tell us about yourself and what are you passionate about?
My name is Musa DIek Pandeka and I have been employed at Welmac since May 2018. I am a 42-year-old single father of 3 beautiful children (2 boys and 1 girl) and I live in Valdezia. I am an avid sportsman that plays soccer but enjoy following all types of sport on TV.
What do you do at Welmac?
I am a team leader on the farm, and in harvest time (March – August) I have a team of 30 people that report to me. I oversee the seasonal harvesting team ensuring that everyone performs to their best. In the off-season myself and my team of 4 are linemen. We ensure that if there are any new plantings that the trees are planted in a straight line with the correct spacing between them.
What do you like / dislike on the farm?
Like: We are given the opportunity by management to grow and improve. Management are friendly and makes the farm feel happy and like home.
Dislike: That we do not get any firewood anymore.
What would you improve if money was not an issue?
I would like to have more training workshops (smaller and more specialized). I would suggest that Welmac start a bursary fund for the workers children that get University exemption.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 leeks, cleaned and finely sliced
- 4 medium-sized Dutch cream potatoes (approximately 600 g), diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 100 g macadamia nuts
- 1.25 L quality vegetable stock (5 cups)
- 125 ml thickened cream (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
- Salt and pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Macadamia oil
- Toasted croutons
- Toasted thyme leaves
- 50 g roasted and chopped macadamia nuts
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and leeks. Season with salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes, thyme, and macadamia nuts. Continue to sauté for a further 5 minutes until the vegetables and macadamia nuts are slightly tender.
3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
4. Use a stick blender or food processor to puree the soup until thick and creamy. If the soup is not as smooth as you'd like, pass it through a fine sieve to remove any lumps.
5. When ready to serve, place the soup over low heat. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle generous spoonfuls of soup into serving bowls.
6. To garnish, drizzle with macadamia oil, add extra cream, and sprinkle with croutons, thyme leaves, and roasted macadamia nuts.
- To make this recipe lactose-free, simply substitute the thickened cream with coconut cream or your favorite plant-based milk.
- Experiment with replacing potatoes with sweet potatoes for a colorful alternative.
- The soup freezes best before adding the cream. Simply defrost, reheat, and add the cream before serving.