KAILUA-KONA — Macadamia nut production and farm value in Hawaii increased during the 2017-18 season, according to figures from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The state’s utilized macadamia nut production increased by 17 percent from last season to 49 million pounds (22 million kilograms), the highest amount in six years.
Farmers grossed about 91 cents per pound and netted $1.10 per pound, which is up 10 cents from the prior season. The overall farm value of the state’s macadamia nut crop was estimated to be nearly $54 million, up 28 percent.
Much of the growth can be attributed to the state’s fixed harvest acreage and the higher global demand for the crop, said Glenn Sako, agricultural specialist with the Hawaii County Department of Research and Development.
“I would say China is a big consumer, as the middle class is starting to use their income to purchase some more of these gourmet products,” Sako said.
The state’s profits could falter next year as China poses a 15 percent tariff on macadamia nuts among other items from the U.S., in response to the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
The majority of the state’s macadamia nut crop is grown on the Big Island. Macadamia nuts are largely dependent on weather patterns and the amount of moisture, particularly on the southern edge of the island, Sako said.
Pahala and other areas on the islands southern side experienced an increase in rainfall last season. The rainfall generally improved yield, but not everywhere, said Troy Keolanui, farm manager at OK Farms.
The farm experienced a production decline of about 25 percent last year because of too much rainfall at its operations on the island’s east side, Keolanui said.
OK Farms projects a 40 percent production decline next year because of the heavy rain from December to March on the east side, he said.
“It’s entirely situational,” Keolanui said. “The best laid plans can fall to pieces in agriculture.”