Cashew Nuts (Anacardium occidentale)
Botanically, the true fruit is the nut. The apple is a pseudofruit. The edible portion is the kernal (cashew nut). The cashew apple is used as a fresh fruit or made into juice, jams, chutneys or jellies in some countries. The thin skin, and fast decomposition of the apple, makes it difficult to transport.
The leading commercial producers of cashews are India, Vietnam, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria.
Australia is the seventh largest, and highest per capita, consumer of cashews in the world. In 2010 Australia imported 15,000 tons, valued at $250 million dollars, primarily from Vietnam (83%) and India (14%).
Cashew is a crop with good potential for the Australian tropics, particularly in the Northern Territory and Queensland, where agro-climatic conditions are suitable for its production. (O’Farrell, Blaikie and Chacko, 1998)
Currently there is only one commercial cashew farm in Australia. It’s owned by Cashews Australia and is located at Dimbulah in northern Queensland. The farm has recently much expanded from the initial 240 ha property. See the ABC Landline (March 2011).
There is no research currently being carried out in Australia. The CSIRO hybrid research terminated in about 2000. The research identified a number of hybrids for commercial planting, and others for future breeding. The hybrids can only be grown under licence (CSIRO can advise if this has changed).
(Horticulture and Forestry Science, Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation).
Right – Cashew apples with developing “nuts” beneath – Courtesy of S. Ballal.
Health and Nutrition
Cashews are high in copper and also contain zinc, magnesium and manganese.
The cashew tree grows in the tropics and subtropics requiring high humidity and fertile soil. Related to the mango and pistachio the cashew can grow to a height of 15 metres and may bear fruit in the second year, be productive in the fourth year, and reach maximum yields in around ten years.
The outer shell is green and leathery and turns an orange red when mature. The inner shell is hard, similar to other nut shells, and contains the edible kernal. The oil enclosed in the nut’s shell (cashew nut shell liquid or CNSL (anacardic acid)) is toxic and can burn the skin. It is used in producing plastics and as a lubricant and insecticide.
Australian cashews are forwarded overseas for processing until such time as crop yields justify the building of a processing plant within Australia. Overseas cashews are hand picked, the nuts are separated from the fruit and then dried in the sun. The nuts are then roasted to get rid of the oil, shelled, peeled, graded and eventually packaged.
- Growing Cashews – Before You Start (Primary Industries – Queensland)
- Cashew Pollination (Department of Agriculture and Food – Western Australia)
Australian Cashew Nurseries
- Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery (Western Australia)
- Trends in Cashew Nut Production and Trade. (FAO – 2000)
- Anacardium occidentale – Reference listing (Australian New Crops)
- Cashew Bonanza (CSIRO)
- Cashew Nuts Whole Farm Budget Tool (Far North Queensland) (Agbiz Queensland)
- Cashew Publications for Sale and download (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation)
- Cashew Research (1989-99) Technical Bulletins (Department of Primary Industry – Northern Territory)
- Informed Farmers – Cashews
- Thesis (1997) – Identification of superior cashew trees for northern Australian conditions (Australian New Crops)
- Tropical Plant Database
- Wikipedia Reference