Thursday, November 30, 2023

Northland peanut trials resume after soggy spell

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Peanut crops add nitrogen and restore soil, making them a great rotational crop.
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The Northland peanut trials are back on track, following a washout of the 2022 crop.

Year three of the trials will involve five planting sites across Kaipara and the Far North, with an estimated 5ha of peanuts to be planted in October/November.

Funding through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund has enabled the project, led by Northland Inc, to continue for a third season. To date the project has yielded promising results for the potential of a commercial peanut-growing industry in Northland.

Northland Inc project manager Greg Hall said after the year one trial, where four cultivars were successfully harvested from sites across Northland, hopes were high for continued success in year two.

“Harvest of year one of the peanut trials saw a sample of 18kg of peanuts sent to Pic’s Peanut Butter in Nelson, where cultivars were processed into peanut butter.

“In some cases, the nutritional values of the Northland-grown cultivars were higher than the peanuts that Pic’s imports from other countries, indicating the quality potential of locally grown produce.

“However, the planting of year two of the Northland Peanut Trials was severely impacted by unseasonal wet weather during October-December 2022, with waterlogged soil hampering planting windows and ultimately seeing a washout of crops seen across much of Northland’s agriculture industry.”

Declan Graham, business development manager at Plant & Food Research, said the prospect for peanut cropping in Northland is good.

“We’ve already established that some of the short season cultivars that have been evaluated to date produce very good yields,” he said.

“We’re really hoping  the weather plays its part this season.”

Hall said the potential benefits of the establishment of a peanut industry in Northland are multifaceted.

“Peanut crops add nitrogen and restore soil, making them a great rotational crop. The Northland  Peanut Trials allow us to assess the opportunity and potential benefits of industry establishment, while minimising the risk for our agriculture farmers.”

As well as the MPI funding, the project is supported by Picot Productions, Northland Inc, Plant & Food Research and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. The upcoming year three trials will involve four iwi partners.

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