Mixed bag for peanut crop
Annual harvest has only started at Coalstoun Lakes
❝ With the different yields, it just shows how a bit of water would benefit the valley. — Mark Rackemann
USUALLY at this time of year, Coalstoun Lakes peanut farmers would have finished threshing and planted a winter crop of wheat.
But due to the unseasonable weather conditions, peanut harvesting has only started in the past few weeks.
For farmers like the Rackemann family, it’s all hands on deck.
Mark Rackemann said considering the drought conditions, he was relieved there was any sort of a crop.
“After three months of phenomenal heat earlier in the season, peanuts must be pretty tough to survive,” he said.
Mr Rackemann said falls of 200mm and then Cyclone Debbie with its 112mm drenching actually saved the crop.
“This was followed up by a further 20mm and a few sprinkles here and there,” he said.
“We could have had one more fall to fill out the crop.”
The dryland crop at this stage was probably going about three-quarters a ton to the acre, Mr Rackemann said.
But it was a different story on the blocks near Ban Ban, where Rackemann Resources used trickle irrigation.
Some of the blocks have already been harvested and yielded 7–7.5 tonnes to the hectare.
Mr Rackemann said they grew the peanuts using trickle tapes for the first time.
“This was just a trial but we found one tape between two rows worked well,” he said.
“It was sufficient to keep the bed wet.”
He said only the peanuts got the water which was not required for the watermelons they were growing at that time.
“It is a lot of work putting in the tapes but at the end it is great just to be able to turn a tap on and off to whatever block you want watered,” Mr Rackemann said.
“A plus was not having the expensive use of irrigators.
“This gave a 95% water use efficiency.
“Overall we used 4ML of water per hectare.
“With the different yields, it just showed how a bit of water would benefit the valley.”
This season, Rackemann Resources has used some new technology thanks to fellow peanut farmers and the engineering work of WV Seabrook & Sons.
Mr Rackemann said after four pretty ordinary years, the family decided to take the gamble and go ahead with the purchase of a six-row peanut cutter.
“It’s the old belts system with some new technology,” he said. “The puller driven on hydraulics is more user-friendly. “The digger pulls six rows at a time into three windrows. This suits the thresher as it travels the same wheel tracks.” Rackemann Resources grew five varieties this season: Kairi, Fisher, Red Vale and the droughtresistant Middleton variety.
Mr Rackemann said the Kairi variety was becoming commercially available.
“PCA plant breeder Graham Wright has spent 12 years perfecting this strain that promises to increase yield and reduce pest and disease control costs,” he said.
“It’s also safer, with disease-resistance bred into them.
“Farmers are less likely to lose the crop if they had a wet harvest.”
Mr Rackemann said another strain called Taabinga looked to be a good one.
He added that farmers were also experiencing a wild pig problem as they went to corner blocks.
“We’re finding footprints and digging amongst the peanuts,” he said.
“It’s only the last season or so but the problem is rapidly rising.”
THRESHING UNDER WAY: Coalstoun Lakes peanut farmers, including Mark Rackemann, are surprised at the yield they are getting after drought conditions.
Red dust in Coalstoun Lakes as threshing has begun.
Peanuts are transferred into bins and taken to on-farm silos.
Rackemann Resources has purchased a six-row cutter.