FIVE hundred feral pigs have been culled from around south-east Queensland macadamia nut farms in the past year, but not before eating their way through half a million dollars-worth of produce.
Suncoast Gold grower services co-ordinator Brice Kaddatz said the feral pig invasion had a severe impact on Gympie region macadamia nut farms, with the animals eating almost straight from the farmers' pockets.
"They are a real problem," Mr Kaddatz said.
"Pigs have had a massive impact - they have taken around half-a-million dollars from the farm gate.
"In the past two years it has ramped up in severity."
He said the problem had become progressively worse over the past two years, costing hundreds of kilograms of valuable produce and threatening to cost more and more.
Farms at Wolvi and Anderleigh were especially hard hit. However in late 2013, farmers, with the help of Gympie Regional Council and independent hunters and trappers, have whittled the exploding population down enough that some farms can enjoy a reprieve.
"A lot of action has been taken," Mr Kaddatz said.
"About 500 pigs have been taken out in this area in the last 12 months."
As farmers throughout the region prepare for harvest, one macadamia farmer at Amamoor has said the feral pig looks to have eased of late. Along with pig culling, they attributed some of the good news to a seasonal crop of bunya pine seeds.
With the pines experiencing a heavy seeding cycle this year, there's hope the food will be enough to keep hungry feral pigs at bay just weeks away from what is expected to be a good, if uninterrupted, harvest.
Mr Kaddatz said while there had been little rain to boost crops, they still looked to far better than the previous flood-effected lot.
While the long dry weather has taken a toll especially on farmers who can not irrigate, Mr Kaddatz said he hoped the big dry has had an equally tough impact on feral pig numbers. He said hoped recent heat waves have reduced litter numbers throughout the region, which would mean a positive outlook for next year's crops as well.
Feral pigs are among the few wild animals with jaws strong enough to crack through a macadamia nut shell. While pigs love the Aussie nut, vets have warned macadamias can be toxic to dogs.
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