Exotic and unusual harvesters: Macadamia nuts

Ledbury-based manufacturer Pattenden has built its first-ever nut harvester, which has been designed and built to hoover up macadamias across the east coast of Australia.

The company is best known for its range of specialist fruit equipment and has based the design of its newest machine on the Grouse apple harvester.

Nut harvester stats

  • Engine: 65hp two-litre four-cylinder Isuzu turbo charged
  • Drive: Poclain Hydrostatic
  • Working speed: Up to 10kph
  • Tyres: 31×15-r17
  • Weight: 2t
  • Size: 2.4m wide and 7.5 m long (including the front sweeps)
  • Price: £60,000

That means it comes with three-wheel drive and three-wheel steer that provides top-drawer manoeuvrability for winding in and around orchard trees.

See also: Unusual harvesters: Cider apples

A 65hp, two-litre turbocharged Isuzu engine provides the power, but has been fitted with a larger cooling pack and a reversible fan to cope with the hot weather in Brisbane.

Similarly, air-conditioning has been added in the cab to make life more comfortable for the driver.

Macadamia harvester

The collection system uses rotary brushes normally found on a road sweeper to shift the golf-ball-sized nuts into a row before a paddle system scoops them up.

The crop is then moved through a set of cleaning rollers before progressing into a specially designed auger, which gently removes the fibrous husk from each nut. Removing this husk stops heating, as the fresh nuts moisture content can be up to 30%.

Macadamia-harvester

When in storage, the crop is dried to 1.5% moisture to shrink the nut away from its shell, which allows the outside to be cracked open.

The machine is currently on its way to Australia and is expected to be ready for this year’s harvest. If you need a machine for collecting nuts – or golf balls – then the asking price is about £60,000.

Macadamia nuts facts

Australia is the largest grower of macadamia nuts and produces 30% of the world’s stock. Each year 70% of Australia’s crop is exported, and macadamias are the only native Australian crop to be produced commercially for food. Production only started in the 1960s, but is now worth AUD200m (£116m) annually to its economy.