Dean Caley, usually grows peanut in Alloway, near Bundaberg, but due to water concerns he’s sitting this season out, growing soybeans instead.
Dean Caley, usually grows peanut in Alloway, near Bundaberg, but due to water concerns he’s sitting this season out, growing soybeans instead.

BEGA AND BETTER: Hopes to grow peanut industry

Early rainfall in November has given some Aussie peanut growers the boost that they needed, securing a positive start to the 2020/2021 peanut growing season.

Unfortunately for one local grower, they've made the tough decision to skip peanuts this season because of a lack of water.

Alloway farmer Dean Cayley said in just over a decade of growing peanuts, they've only skipped planting peanuts once before.

With about 60 per cent of his water allocation, he's opted to plant soybeans instead.

Mr Cayley said there was a wet winter and spring forecast which never eventuated so he wasn't going to hold his breath for large summer rainfalls in order to grow quality peanuts.

Having recorded about 70mm with the recent rainfall, he said unfortunately it wasn't enough.

After three years without any major rainfall he said there was also lower groundwater levels.

But, he said there were some Bundy growers who've planted peanuts and with the recent rainfall their crop was looking good.

Mr Cayley said in Bundaberg there was probably 2000 to 2500ha planted, while Kingaroy has more than 1000ha.

He said the neighbouring growing region in Kingaroy has essentially gone from 0-1000ha of peanuts thanks to rainfall.

Mr Cayley said he'd like to see the peanut industry grow; but unfortunately he was bound by water this season.

Regions in the South Burnett have reportedly received more than 100mm of rainfall in November.

And Bega has its sights set on growing the size of the Aussie peanut industry.

To achieve its ambitions, Bega is working closely with Queensland-based peanut farmers in key peanut growing regions, Bundaberg, Kingaroy, Brisbane Valley and North Queensland. This year, Bega has broken new ground in North Queensland, growing its first peanut crops in Burdekin, North Queensland.

Due to challenging growing conditions exacerbated by drought, locally grown peanuts are currently in short supply.

"Aussies eat more peanuts than our local industry can supply and so we're always working with our local growers to produce more peanuts," said Adam McNamara, executive general manager, Bega Foods.

"Bega and Queensland's peanut growers are in the midst of the most important time of the peanut season - the planting of next year's peanut crop.

"Bega is working with peanut growers to secure a strong start to the 2020/2021 peanut growing season, to ultimately increase the amount of locally grown peanuts that can be supplied to Aussie consumers."

While rainfall in Queensland has tapered off slightly, the industry is hopeful that favourable weather conditions will return, allowing peanut growers to finish the busy planting period on a positive note ahead of the New Year.

The peanut journey starts much earlier than peanut planting season - Bega's Peanut Breeding Program, a collaboration between Bega and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, is investing in the research and development of new peanut varieties to support Australian peanut growers.

This program develops new peanut varieties with improved traits (including peanut quality and yield), to ensure that Aussie peanut growers receive a quality seed when it is time to plant their crop.

"Bega has delivered, and will continue to deliver, quality peanut seeds to our growers as we work towards strengthening returns for peanut growers in 2021," said Tobin Cherry, grower liaison and logistics manager, Bega Foods.

Peanut growers are supported in-field, with regular visits from Bega's agronomists who specialise in crop production and provide advice to growers throughout the season.

Queensland peanut grower Ben Rackemann said "nothing gives us more satisfaction than growing a great crop of peanuts - here on my peanut farm in the Burnett region, we're off to a great start this season".

Bega is proud to showcase the simply nutty goodness of Aussie peanuts in its Bega Simply Nuts natural peanut butter - made from 100 per cent Aussie grown peanuts and a pinch of sea salt. In June, Bega expanded the Bega Simply Nuts range, introducing a 650g jar - offering more choice to Aussie consumers.

By partnering with Aussie peanut growers, Bega is working to grow the supply of Australian-grown peanuts, as well as driving the sustainability and growth of the peanut industry.

"It's Bega's vision to be The Great Australian Food Company - and our peanut growers are paramount to this journey," McNamara said.

 

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