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Northland Weather Goes Nuts: Peanut Trials Impacted Due To Extreme Wet

The planting of Year 2 of the Northland Peanut Trials has been impacted by the ongoing wet weather soaking the region over the past three months.

Of the eight planned sites, three of the four Far North sites were planted, with two being successful. Unfortunately, one crop planted on heavier soil failed to germinate as a result of the wetter conditions. None of the four sites across the Kaipara were planted due to continual saturated soil conditions. In total, 0.51 hectares of trial crops were successfully planted.

Like many of Northland’s growers, crops have been severely impacted by heavy rain creating soil conditions too damp to successfully plant in, resulting in less than one quarter of the planned 4.03 hectares of peanut crops being planted.

Northland Inc Project Manager, Greg Hall, says:

“To date there have been extremely limited planting windows. Soil conditions are challenging with many sites water-logged, more rain forecast and contractors under pressure. The combination of these factors has meant we have had to make the difficult decision to reduce the scope of the Year 2 trial.”

Declan Graham, Business Development Manager at Plant and Food Research says that a late December sowing would be fraught.

“We need up to 1,850 growing degree days for the trial cultivars, but we will likely only have around 1,200 to 1,300 remaining until we reach the target harvest window”.

After the Year 1 trial where four cultivars were successfully harvested from sites across Northland, hopes were high for continued success in Year 2, says Hall.

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“Harvest of Year 1 of the peanut trials saw a sample of 18 kilograms 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 international standards, indicating the quality potential of locally grown produce.”

Continues Graham: “Plant and Food Research ran a small sensory evaluation of peanut butter made from the four peanut cultivars grown in the Year 1 trial. Participants were asked to write notes on the appearance, aroma, taste/flavour and texture. Overall, the four samples were well liked – with some participants really liking the roasted/toasted peanut flavour of two of the cultivars”.

Despite the reduced number and spread of sites for Year 2, Hall says there are still learnings in agronomy and cultivar yield data to be captured, which is valuable to the ongoing trial.

“Despite the setbacks we remain confident in developing learnings to support establishing a peanut industry in Northland. Work continues around how best to support the sector development.”

The project is led by Northland Inc with funding provided by Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, Picot Productions, Northland Inc and expertise from Plant & Food Research and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research.

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