Grower's experience: peanuts rival cotton in central Qld

Cotton grower Paul Brooks has taken a shine to peanuts.

IN MID-APRIL, Central Queensland grower Paul Brooks - "basically a cotton grower" - was looking at a 5-tonnes-plu s-to-the-hectare yield from his 178 ha of irrigated peanuts. At some $800/t, the crop - only his second - again promised better gross margins than cotton.

Paul and Judy Brooks' move into peanuts on their Coreen property, north-west of Rockhampton, mirrors similar actions across the northern grains belt by growers with the right friable soils and access to irrigation water.

Like much of Central Queensland's cropping belt, Coreen is a mix of heavy floodplain soils - where the Brooks usually grow some 320 ha of cotton plus various grains - and lighter sandy ridges, where pulling mature peanuts from the soil is much easier.

The Brooks' commitment to peanuts on Coreen is substantial - two II-tower centre pivots drawing water from the Mackenzie River. "We had the country and we had the water," Mr Brooks explained.

"Peanuts outnetted cotton here last year. The cotton went 3.5 bales, the peanuts better than 2 tonnes to the acre (or 5 t/ha), and the water use was about the same for the two crops.

"This has been a hot year, with no rain, and these peanuts will end up using at least 6 megalitres to the hectare before we get them off. Six and a half megalitres is also the most water we have ever used in cotton, which in some years has needed only four."

The Brooks are collaborating with QDPI peanut scientists on a range of GRDC-supported research, including varietal trials and studies of the effect on soil of continued peanut cropping under different planting and soil preparation regimes.

Program 2 Contact: Mr Paul Brooks 07 4938 0154 emait

Region North