Peanut farmer planting biggest crop in years

Peanut farmer planting biggest crop in years at Kumbia

Horticulture
GO TIME: Julian Cross (right), Four Winds, Kumbia, and great-nephew Corey Cross.

GO TIME: Julian Cross (right), Four Winds, Kumbia, and great-nephew Corey Cross.

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Peanut farmers have started planting this season's crop.

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Timely rains throughout the South Burnett and Wide Bay-Burnett regions have kick-started peanut planting.

Crops have been sown at Kingaroy and Bundaberg after an optimum start on mid-October rains.

Grower Julian Cross this week started seeding his biggest peanut crop in years after battling dry conditions in the Kumbia district.

"Last year we never planted a peanut. The year before I planted 30 hectares - I wish I hadn't," Mr Cross said

"That's probably been the biggest drama of the last few years - the rainfall deficit.

"We had 40mm of rain last week, so we managed to sow 50 hectares on Monday, but the storm that afternoon brought another 10mm and stopped us. Hopefully we can sow another 40ha later this week."

Mr Cross will then sow a final 70ha in the coming weeks for a total peanut crop of 160ha.

He is growing three varieties this year - Kairai, Fisher and Taabinga - to spread his production risk. The growing season runs for about five months.

Mr Cross and his wife Shauna run dryland cropping and cattle operation Four Winds, which consists of a 194ha home block with heavy chocolate clay-based forest soil.

They also share farm 210ha of red soil at nearby Haly Creek.

These days, wheat, corn and mungbeans are mostly sown at home, while the red soil is preferred for the peanuts.

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This year's pre-plant inputs consisted of 70kg/ha of potash, 20kg/ha of DAP and 2kg/ha of zinc. A normal year is 100kg/ha of potash and 30kg/ha of DAP. The country was out of corn, which was harvested in August.

Mr Cross, who supplies solely to Bega-owned Peanut Company of Australia at Kingaroy, said there was a reasonable amount of money to be made if they could grow a good crop.

"Your aim is for two-and-a-half tonnes to the hectare. In a good season, four and a half (t/ha) is achievable," he said.

"For fair, average quality, you'd probably be looking at about $1200 a tonne. We get about $1850 for our edible kernel, but 25 per cent of the load is going be shell, dirt and loose shell kernels."

Bega Foods executive general manager Adam McNamara said the company was feeling positive about the upcoming peanut season.

"We're working closely with growers to prepare for next season's crop, with peanuts already in the ground in Bundaberg," Mr McNamara said.

"We're currently forecasting favourable planting conditions across key growing regions between now and the end of the year," he said.

Mr McNamara said following positive rain events, many growers would start planting in the South Burnett this week.

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