Back to ba­sics for peanuts

Farm­ers urged to keep it sim­ple as sea­son starts

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FIND A -

WITH a sig­nif­i­cant peanut plant ex­pected across Queens­land and New South Wales this year, grow­ers are be­ing urged to “keep it sim­ple” when it comes to agro­nomic man­age­ment to max­imise yield and qual­ity.

Over the years, peanuts have at­tracted a rep­u­ta­tion as be­ing easy to grow but dif­fi­cult to grow well given their re­liance on ad­e­quate wa­ter, nu­tri­tion and pro­tec­tion from weeds and dis­eases, re­sult­ing at times in con­cerns over un­re­li­able yield and qual­ity.

How­ever, plant­ings are on the rise as grow­ers in­creas­ingly em­brace the ro­ta­tional ben­e­fits of im­proved soil nu­tri­tion, broader weed con­trol op­tions and more ef­fec­tive man­age­ment of soil-borne pests and dis­ease.

This has sparked calls for grow­ers to fo­cus on the agronom­bya`sics’ in or­der to max­imise eco­nomic gains from this sea­son’s crop.

De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries prin­ci­pal agron­o­mist and pro­ject leader of the Grains Re­search and Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s Coastal and Hin­ter­land Grower So­lu­tions Group, Neil Halpin said re­cent re­search had high­lighted the im­por­tance of fac­tors such as time of sow­ing, row con­fig­u­ra­tion and plant pop­u­la­tion.

The re­search is part of a GRDC in­vest­ment into tac­ti­cal agron­omy fo­cussing on op­ti­mal legume se­lec­tion within a cane sys­tem and max­imis­ing the pro­duc­tiv­ity of Kairi. Kairi is a new va­ri­ety of­fer­ing im­proved fo­liar dis­ease re­sis­tance to rust and higher yield po­ten­tial that was jointly de­vel­oped by Peanut Com­pany of Aus­tralia, GRDC and DAF.

“The take-home mes­sage from last year’s re­search work was if the peanut crop is man­aged well agro­nom­i­cally it can gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant gross mar­gin re­turns,” Mr Halpin said.

“In the cane/legume ro­ta­tion re­search, both the Kairi and Holt peanut va­ri­eties gen­er­ated a sig­nif­i­cantly higher gross mar­gin than soy­bean, mung­bean, pi­geon pea, or cow pea when grown in ro­ta­tion with cane, re­turn­ing over $3000/hectare.

“In terms of max­imis­ing the pro­duc­tiv­ity of Kairi, re­search over the past cou­ple of sea­sons has fo­cused on fac­tors such as time of sow­ing, plant pop­u­la­tion, row con­fig­u­ra­tion and nu­tri­tion in­puts. When it comes to yield re­sponse, pop­u­la­tion was found to be the dom­i­nant fac­tor.

“With this year’s peanut sea­son about to be­gin, it’s im­por­tant for grow­ers to start with soil test­ing pre-plant to help de­ter­mine their soil ame­lio­rant and fer­tiliser pro­grams and from there, op­ti­mise sow­ing time and plant pop­u­la­tion.

“At the end of the day, if grow­ers can fo­cus on get­ting the agro­nomic ba­sics right, es­pe­cially in terms of ground prepa­ra­tion, plant­ing and in-crop pest and dis­ease man­age­ment, then the gross mar­gin re­turns can be ex­tremely at­trac­tive.”

In­ter­est in peanut pro­duc­tion due to the crop’s gross mar­gin po­ten­tial and farm­ing sys­tem ben­e­fits has been par­tic­u­larly strong within sugar cane farm­ing sys­tems

START OF SEA­SON: DAF prin­ci­pal agron­o­mist Neil Halpin said get­ting the agro­nomic ba­sics right was a key fac­tor in max­imis­ing gross mar­gin re­turns on peanut crops. PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTEDwhere it has helped al­le­vi­ate the im­pact of root le­sion (Praty­lenchus zeae) and root-knot (Meloidog­yne ja­van­ica and M. incog­nita) ne­ma­todes, im­prove avail­able soil ni­tro­gen, im­prove weed man­age­ment ef­fec­tive­ness and en­able em­ploy­ment of a year-round work­force.

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