Kate's Choice takes place in Germany, Townsville and on an experimental macadamia nut farm at Giru about an hour's drive south of Townsville. During my research this is what I found out about macadamia nuts.
Macadamia nuts are an Australian native. They love to grow in a subtropical climate and flourish when temperatures are between 20 and 25 degrees celsius.
The trees present with shiny dark leaves and grow to a height of 12 to 15 metres. Flowering happens in early spring and nuts begin to form in early December maturing to a well-formed nut by early March. The nuts are encased in a green crust which splits open when the nuts are ready for harvesting. This splitting enables the kernel inside the brown woody shell to dry and separate from the hard shell. Hitting the hard shell with a hammer to open it will reward you with that delicious smooth nut that has a buttery flavour.
Kate's father, Dominic, feeling the effects of drought felt he needed to diversify his farming, so he sold most of his cattle and planted macadamia nuts as an experiment.
Giru's temperature is a little too warm and the rainfall can be unreliable for growing macadamias but he wanted to try with the help of trickle irrigation. He planted the small saplings and some of them perished in the heat while the stronger ones held on. With time the trees adapted and grew but not to the height of those that grow in south east Queensland. The leaves didn't have the same depth of green, but he got a crop. He persevered and over the years he planted up to 2,000 trees. Alex, Dusty's brother, is a research scientist. He worked with Dominic to help him through the highs and lows of the experiment to achieve his desired result.
Whether to take up the challenge to diversify and what new crop to plant has to be one of the most difficult decisions to make in farming. Farmers are on a huge learning curve as they come to understand the life cycle of a new crop and its needs to thrive and whether it can become a viable business venture. The amount of time a new tree crop like Macadamia nuts takes to bear is also another factor. Dominic was willing to take the risk and with Alex's help was able to create a new source of income from his land.
Are you willing to take a risk on a new project and see it through to the end no matter the challenges?