Soil Amendments and Soil Profiling Impact on Macadamia Growth and Yield Performance

in HortScience

Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia, Maiden & Betche) orchard management in Hawaii can result in the loss of organic matter and soil degradation. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of macadamia husk mulch, husk mulch combined with biochar, husk mulch combined with effective microorganisms (EM), soil profiling, and wood chip mulch on yield, nut quality, root growth, and SPAD values during a 1-year study of mature macadamia orchards at two locations in Hawaii. A partial cost–benefit analysis was performed to compare the costs and yield benefits of each treatment. Soil profiling resulted in higher yields than any other treatment, at a mean of 86.6 kg wet-in-husk per tree. No treatments significantly affected nut quality or dry kernel weight. Nut quality was affected by harvesting time, with the earliest harvesting (Aug. 2017) period resulting in the highest recovery rate of number 1 grade kernels (33%). SPAD values increased with the husk mulch combined with EM (6.5%) treatment and soil profiling treatment (6.9%). Husk combined with EM caused an 87% increase in total root biomass during the study period due to increased proteoid root biomass. The soil profiling treatment had the second lowest estimated cost per hectare and had the highest estimated partial profit per hectare. Soil profiling is a destructive management practice and should be used judiciously until its long-term effects on orchard health are studied. The inoculation of EM or sugar signaling may have been responsible for the proliferation of proteoid roots with the husk mulch and EM treatment.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author. E-mail: rgalanti@hawaii.edu.

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