By Joshua Kato
The macadamia tree is usually propagated by grafting.
Before planting, soak the seeds in a drum of water for 72 hours (three days). Pour out the water and refill the drum daily. Putting the seeds in water softens the seed coat, which eases the germination process.
After three days, the seeds are planted in the nursery bed. A macadamia nursery bed requires stones and lake or river sand. This helps the water not to destroy the seeds and also to further ease the hard seed coat to break. After planting the seed, water them twice a day with at least ½ litre of water. Germination should start after 21 days. Transfer the seedlings where the sun hits at 50% for four months and 25 days before taking them to a second bed in polythene bags or pots.
At the second nursery bed, expose them to sunlight, which is measured and controlled. Here, put a mesh or net to achieve this so that the seeds are not destroyed. This is called 50% shed net. Here the seeds spend eight to 10 months. At this stage, weeding is necessary to soften the ground for better plant growth and to control weeds.
After four to six months, when the seedlings are at 50% shed net, take them outside where the sunlight is the most, which is called 90% shed. This helps the tree to harden before being taken to where the buds are cut off for new ones to emerge to fasten growth and yield of the trees. They stay under the 90% shed for four to six months. When the buds are cut off, put them under a structure made out of polythene (kaveera) sheets. The polythene sheet shed should be suspended to avoid it reaching the trees. The polythene sheet has to be white and light so that it can allow fresh air, water and sun to penetrate. This structure has to be opened after every week to irrigate and weed.
It has to cover the trees up to the ground so that insects and animals do not destroy the trees before they are taken to the garden or sold. Overall, the macadamia goes through four nursery beds taking one year and a half, with nursery bed three and four following the same process as nursery bed two.
When planting, the hole has to be two by two feet with a spacing of 10 by 10 feet. In other words, on one acre if you are to plant other crops, you plant between 100 to 120 trees of macadamia.