Picking Macadamia Nuts: When Are Macadamia Nuts Ripe

Hands Holding Macadamia Nuts
harvest macadamia
(Image credit: MeganBowersPhotographer)

Macadamia trees (Macadamia spp.) are native to southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales where they thrive in rain forests and other moist areas. The trees were brought to Hawaii as ornamentals, which led eventually to macadamia production in Hawaii. If you are wondering when to pick macadamia nuts, you have to wait until they are ripe. The nuts ripen at different times depending on where you are and what type of tree you have. Even on one macadamia tree, the nuts don’t all ripen the same week or even the same month. Read on for more information about macadamia nut harvesting.

When are Macadamia Nuts Ripe?

So, when are macadamia nuts ripe enough for picking? How do you tell when to pick macadamia nuts? Remember that it takes four to five years for a tree to bear nuts, then eight months before a nut ripens, so patience is essential. To figure out if macadamia nuts are ripe, touch the outside of the macadamia nut. Is it sticky? Don’t start picking macadamia nuts if they are sticky to the touch because they are not ripe. Another test involves the color of the inside of the macadamia husk. If it is white, don’t start macadamia nut harvesting. If it is chocolate brown, the nut is ripe. Or try the float test. Unripe macadamia nut kernels sink to the bottom of a glass of water. If the kernel floats, the nut is ripe. Also, ripe macadamia nuts often fall to the ground, so keep a lookout.

How to Harvest Macadamia Nuts

When you are learning how to harvest macadamia nuts, remember not to shake the tree. It seems that this might be a great way to harvest ripe nuts, but it is also likely to bring down unripe nuts. Instead, lay a tarp beneath the tree. It will catch fallen ripe nuts, and you can hand pick ripe ones and toss them onto the tarp. Put on gloves before you begin. Use a tool called a shepherd’s hook or a long pole to dislodge the higher ones.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.