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Peanuts and Fertilisers

Peanuts, as a legume, have different fertiliser requirements to many other crops PCA recommends that growers obtain a complete nutrient analysis or soil test prior to planting their peanuts. The ideal pH range for peanuts is from 5.5 to 7.0. Soils that are more acidic than this (below pH 5.5) should be limed. Peanuts are regarded as good scavengers for nutrients, but if any nutrients are lacking in the soil, including micronutrients, then yields will be reduced. Phosphorus, calcium and sulphur are the most common nutrients applied to peanuts, but growers should check magnesium and potassium levels as these are becoming depleted in many Australian soils. Micronutrients must not be ignored as a deficiency can sometimes lead to major yield losses. Zinc, boron and molybdenum are commonly used. Copper is often deficient on very sandy soils. Soil applications of micronutrients are preferred, but foliar applications may also be used. On sandy soils, manganese levels should also be checked.

Peanuts need calcium

Peanuts also have a relatively high requirement for calcium. Calcium is not very mobile within the plant, so the peanut pod takes up its own calcium directly from the soil. Available calcium must be present in the podding zone (the top 2-10cm of soil). Adequate calcium is essential for ensuring high quality kernels. Insufficient calcium may lead to smaller kernels and kernels with hollow hearts (not completely filled). Low calcium will also reduce the germination of seed peanuts. In larger seeded peanuts, low calcium levels can lead to kernel abortion, causing empty pods or "pops", splits and poor germination. To provide an adequate supply of calcium, gypsum (calcium sulphate) is usually applied at early flowering over the peanut row. Gypsum is a relatively soluble source of calcium that is easily absorbed by the pods. Gypsum contains 18 to 20 percent calcium and is applied at rates of 600 to 1000kg per hectare. Alternatively, fine lime can be applied four to six weeks prior to planting and lightly incorporated. Lime is less soluble than gypsum. It is usually applied at rates of two and a half to four tonnes per hectare and contains 35 to 40 per cent calcium.

Nitrogen peanuts make it themselves

High levels of nitrogen are needed for high-yielding peanut crops. However, like other legumes, peanuts fix nitrogen from the air via rhizobia nodules on their roots.

Peanut seed is inoculated with efficient strains of rhizobia prior to planting to ensure optimum nitrogen fixation occurs. When the suitable rhizobia bacteria become established in fields, farmers do not need to add nitrogen fertilisers to peanut crops.

VAM a very helpful fungus!

Peanuts also require relatively large amounts of phosphorous however the presence of a fungus on their roots makes them very efficient at absorbing any reserves in the soil. To illustrate the importance of Vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (VAM), experiments in Kingaroy showed that very high levels of phosphorous were needed when there was no VAM present. Soils which had been sterilised required about 240kg/ha of phosphorus to achieve full growth potential. When the VAM was not destroyed, the rate was just 30kg/ha. Peanut growers have traditionally used high phosphorous rates on alternate crops (eg maize) during crop rotation. Peanuts respond better to fertiliser left over from the previous crop than to fertiliser directly applied to the latest crop.

Soil Preparation
Carefully preparing the soil is an important part of successfully growing peanuts PCA requires that all new paddocks be tested for pesticide and heavy metal residue prior to planting. These tests can be carried out at PCAs Innovation and Technical Centre. Peanuts prefer a weed-free, moderately fine seedbed. As they develop an extensive root system, deep ripping to break up soil compaction may be necessary. Peanuts also require loose soil in which to peg (ie re-enter the soil to develop underground nuts). Peanut seed is easily damaged and must be treated as gently as possible. Once a seed is split, the two halves will not germinate. Seed is treated with fungicide before planting to reduce seedling diseases. It is not worthwhile for farmers to plant untreated seed as germination rates will drop to less than 40 per cent. Planting can start any time after the soil temperature reaches 18 degrees Celsius at planting depth (50-70mm). This is measured at 9am for three days in a row. Planting is delayed if rain is expected within 3 or 4 days. Planting is also timed to ensure the crop is ready for harvest before frosts begin and when there is a low risk of rain.

Peanuts dont like competition!

Weeds compete with the peanut crop for moisture, nutrients and light and also cause major problems at harvest time. Early control of weeds during the first six weeks is critical. Yields will be slashed if weeds are allowed to compete unchecked at this stage. The presence of weeds also causes losses during digging, threshing and drying entangling machinery, knocking peanuts off the bush and leading to mould damage by causing uneven drying in the windrow. Weeds can also restrict air flow during the drying process, creating pockets of moisture which have the potential to cause aflatoxin. A combination of cultivation, herbicides and hand-chipping are usually required to control weeds. Soil fertility is very important. During the growing of the peanut pod, calcium and boron are absorbed through the shell rather than through the plants roots. This impacts on the method and timing of fertiliser applications. Peanuts tolerate a wide range of soil acidity levels, however ideally the pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0. Soils that are more acidic than this (below pH 5.5) should be limed. Make sure your soil test is properly interpreted by a qualified agronomist. Peanut yields are maximised by rotating with other crops over a three-year period. Peanuts fix nitrogen into the soil however they also remove essential nutrients that need to be replaced to ensure true yield potential is achieved. Some farmers grow peanuts for two seasons in one paddock and then rotate out for three to five seasons. PCA recommends that peanuts are rotated with other crops once in three seasons. Examples of successful rotation crops are maize, wheat, sorghum, grass, sugarcane and potatoes.

Peanut Varieties
There are three main types of peanuts grown in Australia: Virginia types; Runner types; and Spanish types

Virginia types have large seeds, an upright bush structure and are mainly used in the snackfood market. They are grown in both dryland and irrigated areas. Examples of Virginia types include NC-7, Streeton, VB97 and Conder. Runner types usually grow prostrate along the ground and are mainly confined to irrigated or high rainfall areas. They produce a uniform, medium-size kernel mainly used in confectionery and manufacturing. Examples of Runner types include SO95R and Chifley. Spanish types produce a uniform, small-size kernel and are mainly used in manufacturing (peanut butter) and confectionery. PCA does not market any Spanish variety peanuts.

Seed Programs

PCA, in partnership with the Queensland DPI, is heavily involved in programs to introduce and develop new peanut varieties suitable for Australian conditions The QDPI has a peanut breeding and introduction program based at Kingaroy. The Peanut Company of Australia has an extensive introduction and evaluation program based on varieties from the United States.

Variety Improvement Program

PCA increases the seed stock available so a new variety can be put on trial. We then contract the DPI to run the actual trials. At the moment, the DPI is conducting a trial on behalf of PCA in the Northern Territory. PCA has a large input in these field trials, entering into a share-farming arrangement with a grower or leasing land for the trial to be conducted. During the actual trial, PCA continually makes observations about how the crop is developing. We then harvest and grade the crop ourselves so we can get a good idea about the variety's potential. Several mainstream peanut cultivars now farmed in Australia were introduced via this process: Streeton was developed by the DPI, S095R was introduced from the United States and further developed locally, Chifley was introduced from the United States.

Many promising peanut cultivars are tested but not all of them will make it into fullscale seed production. At the moment more than 30 lines are under trial for PCA.

Seed Bank
PCA recognises the importance of maintaining a diverse peanut gene pool for future resistance to disease. For this reason, peanut lines are maintained because of certain characteristics which the market may require - or that growers may need - in the future. For this reason too, some seed is kept which is regenerated at a much slower rate so the purity of the line is maintained.

Pure Seed Program

Those varieties which successfully prove themselves during the variety trials, are then put into commercial production by PCA so that they can be made available to growers in the future. Currently, PCA is marketing SO95R, Chifley, NC-7, VB97, Streeton and Conder seed varieties. As well, as supplying pure seed, PCA ensures peanuts supplied to growers are coated with a seed dressing, a fungicide, which provides protection until germination occurs.

Farming Services
PCA has a highly-skilled team in its Farming Services Department ready to help you!

Farming Services Manager - Pat Harden BSc Pat, (above), is responsible for grower feedback, liaison and support. PCA's Farming Services Department includes a manager and three agronomists (two in the South Burnett and one in North Queensland) offering services to growers including the Pure Seed program, contract planting and harvesting and agronomic advice.

Financial Accountant - Lionel Wieck BBus (Accounting), CPA, Registered Tax Agent Lionel, (above), has been involved in agribusiness enterprises with a turnover from $20 million to $120 million for 25 years at middle and senior management levels. He has been at PCA for 17 years in Finance and Farming Services management roles. His currrent role specialises in purchasing contracts, logistics support (contract planting and harvesting services) and financial accounting.

Seed Agronomist - Grant Baker BAg Grant, (above right), has a major role with PCA's Pure Seed program and all things to do with seeds - maintenance of the peanut gene pool, peanut variety evaluations and introducing new varieties. He also provides general agronomic advice, assists with harvesting operations (as part of PCA's contracting obligations), attends grower meetings. Grant is ready to assist new and potential growers where possible in a bid to extend the peanut industry.

North Queensland Agronomist - Zane Micola Zane, (above), provides agronomic support for the existing grower base and prospective new growers. Liaises with industry officials, agribusiness, research and development. Co-ordinates contract planting, digging and harvesting operations in North Queensland as well as helping co-ordinate the Tolga drying facilities.

Pre-Cleaning Your Crop

PCA recommends peanut growers pre-clean their peanut crop before drying

On-farm pre-cleaners, (above), are specifically designed to remove dirt, sticks, stones and other extraneous matter from a load of peanuts. They usually consist of a set of rollers and screens and sometimes also use blowers to remove the extraneous matter. Pre-cleaning a load prior to drying makes curing much more efficient and uniform and overcomes problems with wet spots in the load. Pre-cleaning will also often remove many of the loose shell kernels (LSKs) and immature pods that tend to harbour aflatoxin infection.

For growers who are a long distance from PCA's receival depots, pre-cleaning, (above), ensures they are not paying freight on dirt and extraneous matter. Many new growers have paid for their pre-cleaner in the first year through savings made on freight.

Irrigation versus Dryland Cropping

Peanuts are considered to be a relatively drought-tolerant crop, producing a yield even during droughted seasons. However, as few growers can afford these low yields, irrigation is the answer Peanuts have various physiological mechanisms for avoiding the effects of drought and an extensive root system which is able to exploit moisture reserves at depth. Even during drought, peanuts will nearly always produce some yield however, few growers can afford mediocre yields because of input costs. Peanuts are best grown where the rainfall is reliable or where access to irrigation is available.

What Will Irrigation Do?

Improve yield Improve quality

Reduce aflatoxin Improve reliability and reduce risk Improve profitability

Crop Water Requirements

Peanuts need 600 to 700mm of water over the season for a high-yielding crop. This can come from either rain, irrigation or stored soil moisture. However it is not the total amount of moisture that the crop receives that is most important. Timing of rainfall or irrigation can have a dramatic effect on both crop yield and quality.
Growth Stages Irrigation Requirements Germination and Good moisture conditions are required. Irrigation can ensure you plant Emergence on time. Vegetative Peg Initiation Pod Formation and Filling Maturity Peanuts can tolerate mild water stress at this stage. Stress at this stage may be beneficial. No water stress at this stage, very sensitive. Use irrigation. No water stress. Use irrigation. Decreasing water use as the crop matures. Irrigation scheduling using a system of pan evaporation measurements and crop factors has been foundd to be very effective. Devices which provide indirect measurement of soil water can also be very useful including tensiometers, Gypsum blocks and neutron moisture meters.


Irrigation Systems
If water is available, then it can be used to improve peanut yields and returns. The main systems currently used for irrigating peanuts include: furrow irrigation or various forms of sprinkler irrigation including centre pivot, lateral moves, travelling irrigators or solid set. Furrow Irrigation is the least capital intensive system of irrigation but requires relatively flat land (not greater than about 2 per cent slope). The main requirement for furrow irrigation is that the land is reasonably level to ensure uniform application. This may involve laser levelling at a cost of about $300 to $700 per hectare. Sprinkler Irrigation systems are the main systems used in peanuts. Centre pivots involve a relatively high outlay in capital but can be simple to run and to maintain. Depending on the size of the system, an average figure to establish a centre pivot or lateral move is approximately $1500 to $2000 per hectare for the irrigator and the associated headworks etc.

Peanuts and Weed Control

Good weed control is essential in peanuts Peanuts do not grow very tall so they do not compete very well with weeds. Unless good weed control is achieved, substantial yield losses will occur. A large range of herbicides are registered for use in peanuts. Some of these are shown below. Correct use of herbicides has proven to be safe and very effective against a diversity of both grass and broadleaf weeds. However, growers should avoid spraying broadleaf herbicides during the main flowering period if possible. Mechanical cultivation to remove weeds is still used in many areas and is often beneficial. However growers need to be careful not to prune the roots of the peanut

bushes and to avoid throwing dirt up against the plant stem. These can exacerbate soil-borne diseases.

Example Herbicides
Time of Application Pre-planting Preemergence Postemergence Postemergence Postemergence Postemergence Postemergence Postemergence Postemergence Main Type of Some Trade Weeds Names Grasses and some Broadleaf Grasses and some Broadleaf Broadleaf Broadleaf Broadleaf Grasses Grasses Nutgrass Grass, Broadleaf and Nutgrass Treflan Product Rate 2.1L/ha Comments mechanically incorporated needs rain or irrigation within 10 days

Dual Blazer Basagran 2,4-DB Sertin plus DC Tron Fusilade Spinnaker Flame


1.0-2.0L/ha causes some burn 1.0-2.0L/ha 1.5-2.0L/ha 1.0L/ha 2.0L/ha 0.5-1.0L/ha 100140g/ha use wetter use wetter

use wetter plus 1L/ha Hasten (crop oil)

200plus 1L/ha Hasten 400mls/ha (crop oil)

NB. Farmers should always refer to the latest Material Safety Data Sheet for product information before using any pesticide.

Peanut Diseases and Pests

Peanut crops can be affected by a range of leaf and soil-borne diseases, however good management practices including crop rotation and the use of fungicides can minimise the effect of most of these Young seedlings are normally protected by the seed dressing, a fungicide which is a mixture of Captan and Quintozene. A common seedling disease is Crown Rot (Aspergillus niger) which is endemic in most soils. It often kills very weak seedlings and is very prevalent when soil temperatures are high. Foliar diseases include Leafspot, Rust and Net Blotch. Protective fungicides are available. If left uncontrolled, these diseases can be devastating causing total loss of leaf, weakened peg strength, loss of pod and the eventual death of the plant.
Diseases Rust and Leafspot " " Net Blotch " Some Registered Products Bravo 720 Folicur Alto Bravo 720 Folicur Some Recommended Rates 1.1-1.8L/ha 0.2-0.4L/ha 0.4-0.6L/ha 1.1-1.8L/ha 0.2-0.4L/ha

Soil-borne diseases include sclerotinia, white mould and CBR (Cylindrocladium black rot). Good rotational practices, crop management and hygiene are the best

defences. Some fungicides are available for control. Sclerotinia can be particularly devastating in some areas. PCA recommends that a registered fungicide spray (eg Rovral at 1L/ha) be applied as a protectant before symptoms appear. This may be as early as when the crop is six to eight weeks old or when the first flower petals drop. One or two follow-up fungicide applications may be required if symptoms develop.

Insect Pests
Peanuts grown in Queensland's traditional peanut-growing areas usually have fewer above-ground insect problems compared with other high-value crops, however peanuts grown in cotton and lucerne areas will suffer more attacks than more isolated crops. The main foliage feeders tend to be Heliothis (Heliocoverpa sp.) and Cluster Caterpillar (Spodoptera sp.). Large numbers of these larvae (more than six per metre) can be damaging when the plants are very small and control measures may be warranted. Growers also need to check crops carefully during the main flowering and pegging period. These insects will attack both flowers and pegs and can reduce yield potential. Control may be warranted if there are more than two larvae per metre of row. A number of sucking insects will attack peanuts and are often responsible for the spread of viruses. The most common are the Vegetable Jassid and the Lucerne Leafhopper. These can attack the crop at any stage and often build up to huge numbers. Growers often overlook these pests because they are small and not easily seen, but in large numbers they can cause significant crop damage. If 25 per cent or more of the crop's leaves have small yellow spots or stippling, and or the leaves are turning yellow at the tips and margins, then chemical control measures may be warranted. Thrips, Mirids and Mites can also be a problem in some areas. Regular scouting of the crop is essential to determine if control measures are warranted.

Soil Insects and Pod Damage

In some parts of North Queensland, White Fringed Weevils (Graphognathus leucoloma) can cause severe damage to peanut crops. The larvae of the weevil attack the taproot of the plant. This may cause either direct death of the plant or indirectly lead to its demise by providing an entry site for diseases such as CBR. The larvae will also chew pegs and developing pods. The best strategy for managing this pest appears to be to control the adults with Methamidophos before they lay their eggs.

Various whitegrubs (Lepidiota spp.), and canegrubs will also feed on roots, pegs and developing pods. Mechanical cultivation can be useful in controlling some of these pests and some soil-applied insecticides may also be warranted. Etiella may be common on some of the sandier soil types and is often especially active against the Runner peanut varieties. The adult moth lays its eggs into the soil near the peanuts. The larvae hatch and feed on the pods. Growers should check their crops at least a month prior to harvest. Any evidence of pod damage, frass or webbing may indicate the need for application of registered chemicals, or in extreme cases, the crop may have to be dug early. PEANUTS:

How Peanuts Are Grown

If you are interested in growing peanuts, PCA can provide specific agronomic and technical advice and has a number of handouts and booklets available. Please contact us for further information.

Advice for South and Central Queensland growers is also available from a Consulting Agronomist The Queensland Department of Primary Industries also provides information. Many chemical and fertiliser resellers also have agronomists who can provide assistance.

Are you interested in growing peanuts?

Peanuts are "not a difficult crop to grow but are a difficult crop to grow well". Returns depend on yields and quality. Best returns are obtained under reliable rainfall or irrigation with intensive management. Most types of irrigation can be used including sprinkler systems, and furrow irrigation. Successful furrow irrigation requires good land levels and raised beds. Gross margins vary from $300-$600 per hectare for dryland crops to $900$2000 per hectare for irrigated crops. Growing costs are relatively high for irrigated crops so growers must aim to maximise returns. Peanuts prefer sands, sandy loams and light clay loams; losses can be high in heavy or sticky soils. All new paddocks must be tested for pesticide and heavy metal residues prior to planting. PCA's Innovation and Technical Centre can assist with this process. Planting usually occurs from October to January. In the Northern Territory, plantings occur in March-April. Crops take five months to grow. Planting should be timed so harvesting is conducted in a relatively dry time of the year. A minimum soil temperature of 18 degrees C is required for germination (measured at 50mm depth at 9am).

The crop's maturity is assessed to determine harvesting time. Harvesting is a two-part operation. Firstly, the tap-root is cut and the plant tops and peanut pods inverted to partially dry in the field for several days before a separate threshing operation, (above), is done. Optimum threshing occurs at a moisture content of 16-18%. Controlled drying brings the peanuts slowly to a safe storage moisture content and ensures optimum quality. Extended periods of paddock drying can cause higher losses, more splits, poorer quality and increased risk of rain damage. Peanuts should form part of a sustainable farming system - grown once every two to three years, rotating with a grass or cereal crop.

Will I need special machinery?

Planters - Peanuts must be planted with a row crop planter (right). Combine planters are not suitable. Plate planters (eg Covington and Janke) are commonly used as well as rotary cone and finger pick-up planters like Mason Deere and KMC. Vacuum precision planters (eg John Deere and Monosem) are gentle and well-suited for peanuts. Kinze planters with "edible bean" cups are not suitable. Harvesters - A digger / inverter (right) is used to dig the peanuts from the soil. A combine or thresher is then used to separate the peanuts from the bush. Peanuts cannot be augered; belt elevators are used to move peanuts from storage bins to transport. Harvesting contractors are available to assist with harvesting ( Contact us for further information). Timing of harvesting operations is critical to guarantee high yields and optimum quality. Many farmers purchase some harvesting equipment within one to two seasons.


Growers are paid according to their peanut quality. A sample is taken from the load, (right) and tested for moisture content and aflatoxin. ( Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin produced by a soil-borne fungus that can infect peanuts, mainly under droughtstressed conditions.)

Extraneous material is determined and the sample is then shelled and graded using a set of standard sieves. Payment is determined on the basis of the graded sample and the clean dry weight of the load. Deductions are made if aflatoxin is detected, depending on the level of infection. Kernel quality and the percentage of kernel content are the main determinants of final value of each load. PCA purchases peanuts directly from growers on tonnage contracts with set prices per grade and flexible payment options. Contact us for further information.

Drying and Shelling

What happens after the peanuts are delivered to Kingaroy? Firstly samples are taken to assess moisture content and aflatoxin level. The loads are then dried, (right), to ensure safe storage. The drying facility runs 24 hours a day during the intake season and can handle 140 tonnes of peanuts daily. The peanuts are stored in Kingaroys famous silos kept in separate bins, segregated according to aflatoxin level and variety. Peanuts arrive at Kingaroy from South Burnett farms from March to June. Farmers stock from the Central Burnett, which has been stored at the Peanut Company of Australia's Gayndah depot, is brought to Kingaroy during JulyAugust. The Northern Territory crop arrives by road in September-October. Peanuts arrive at PCA's Tolga depot on the Atherton Tablelands from April to July. They are shelled, graded and transported to Kingaroy throughout the season. When a decision is made on what stocks will be shelled, conveyors carry the peanuts from the silos to the shelling plant. At the shelling plant, a rotating drum gently cracks the peanut shells. The cracked shells are aspirated off, collected and sold for use in stock feed and as garden mulch. The kernels are gravity-sorted and graded on a tilted sorting table. Heavier material (unshelled nuts and any foreign matter such as sticks or stones) moves upwards and lighter material (the kernels) moves downwards. Any unshelled peanuts are returned to the shelling plant for reprocessing. The kernels then undergo another sorting process, this time using a green laser, (right), and an infrared laser. The two lasers scan the kernels simultaneously, checking for correct colour (the green laser) and structure (infrared). This laser check weeds out any remaining foreign matter which may be included with the kernels.

The kernels are now graded according to size by passing through a number of sieves. The graded kernels are packed in cages in cool storage while a sample from each 25-tonne batch is sent for laboratory analysis. When a clearance comes from the laboratory, a decision is made on whether the kernels will be sold to the raw market or be sent to the blanching plant for further processing. Product destined for the raw market is prior to packaging. colour-sorted and inspected for quality

The shelling plant can process 9.5 tonnes of kernel a day and runs from 6am10pm during the peak season.

Blanching is the process to remove the skin of the peanut kernel. This is an important part of the processing procedure carried out at PCA's Kingaroy plant Blanching is a continuous operation at Kingaroy with kernels moving at the rate of 10 tonnes an hour. First the peanut kernels, either whole or halves, are run through a large roaster with six heating zones and four cooling zones. This process does not roast the peanuts but prepares them for skin removal. Whole nut kernels then run along two parallel rotating abrasive rollers. The rollers are set about 5mm apart and the skins are stripped away as they pass along. Peanut halves, or "splits", pass between a rotating rubber belt and a fixed stationary rubber plate, (right). The distance between these can be adjusted to control the degree of blanching. After they are blanched, the kernels pass to the sorting area.

After blanching, the peanut kernels are colour-sorted. Special cameras are used at Kingaroy to speed up this process Electronic sorting automatically removes any discoloured kernels detected by digital in-line scanning cameras. These scanning cameras can detect 16 million colours down to a size of 0.5sq mm and make 20,000 decisions a second as the stream of peanuts pass through the air, (right). The discoloured kernels are removed from the product stream by a blast of air.

PCA has five digital in-line scanning cameras in Kingaroy to handle the massive flow of peanuts. An x-ray sorting machine, (left), also ensures that foreign matter is removed from the product stream. However, there is also human quality control in place. After colour sorting, the peanut kernels pass on to picking tables where PCA staff members carry out quality inspections.


The Health Food in a Shell

Major studies have found eating peanuts can lower the risk of heart disease, cut the risk of diabetes and assist dieters Five major studies have examined the relationship between heart disease and eating nuts and all have found a higher nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Harvard researchers examined data collected over a 14-year study of 86,000 nurses aged 34-59. They found women who ate more than half a cup of nuts a week were about 35 per cent less likely to develop heart disease or suffer a heart attack than women who rarely or never ate nuts. The relationship between eating nuts and heart disease held true even after researchers took into account differences in exercise patterns, smoking, body weight, fibre and vitamin intake (British Medical Journal, 1998). The bonus is not only for women! The Physicians Health Study which traced 22,000 men over 11 years found that men whose diets included the most nuts had the lowest risk of dying from heart disease. Again, this held true even when differences in exercise levels, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes were factored into the study (American Heart Association Conference, Dallas, 1998).

Why is this so?

Apart from the beneficial effect of unsaturated fatty acids, researchers point to the presence of magnesium, the anti-oxidant Vitamin E and high fibre content as possible factors. The phytochemical resveratrol, found in red wine and grapes, is also present in peanuts. Resveratrol acts as an anti-oxidant and has a protective effect against cancer and heart disease. Peanuts also contain more arginine than any other nut an amino acid which has been promoted by health food practitioners as preventing heart disease, boosting muscle growth, improving wound healing, combating fatigue, stimulating the immune system, curing impotence and fighting cancer. What we know for sure is that arginine boosts nitric oxide production, a compound that relaxes blood vessels and helps keep arteries flexible.

The folate found in peanuts also lowers homocysteine levels in the blood, another factor for heart disease. High homocysteine levels have also been identified as a risk factor to developing dementia and Alzheimers Disease.

Eating peanuts can cut risk of diabetes

In November 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association provided another excellent reason for not feeling guilty about enjoying peanuts. The Harvard School of Pubic Health reported that the Nurses population study had found that eating one tablespoon of peanut butter or 28g of peanuts five or more times a week was associated with a 20-30 per cent reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Also, this relationship was linear, ie eating more peanuts provided a greater protective effect. In the words of expert Frank Hu, PhD (Associate Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health): Given the observed inverse association between nuts and risk of coronary heart disease as well as Type 2 diabetes, it is advisable to recommend regular peanut butter and nut consumption as a replacement for refined grain products or red or processed meats which would avoid increasing caloric intake.

But arent peanuts fattening?

Nuts can be a rich source of calories but the Nurses study also found that women who frequently ate nuts were leaner than those who rarely ate nuts. One reason proposed by researchers was that the nut eaters felt full sooner and therefore self-regulated their caloric intake. It has been shown that dieters who eat peanuts and peanut butter feel more satisfied and therefore tend to stick to their diets. Another study has shown that even when kilojoule intake is the same, people eating low glycaemic index (GI) foods such as peanuts lose more weight than those eating high glycaemic index foods. Peanuts have one of the lowest GIs, providing slower energy release. Colorado State University researchers have suggested we should all replace high-fat foods in our diet with a serving of nuts. And its easy to incorporate peanuts into our daily diets. Peanut butter can be used as a replacement for butter or cream cheese. So the next time you reach for a snack, choose peanuts over potato chips or biscuits! However there are some very few people who cannot eat peanuts. Click here for information about allergens.

Peanuts and Women

According to recent nutrition surveys, Australian women aged 25-44 eat only about two-thirds the amount of nuts compared with Australian men of the same ages ... there are, however, many good reasons why women should be including more peanuts in their diet everyday

Healthy babies
Peanuts are a particularly good source of the B-group vitamin folate or folic acid, which has some important functions in the body. It is vital for the production of red blood cells and for normal growth and development. More recently it has been recognised that folate is essential for preventing neuraltube defects (including spina bifida) in babies. A large study revealed that seven out of 10 cases of neural-tube defects can be prevented by mums increasing their folate intake for at least one month before and during the first three months of pregnancy. While most adults need around 200 micrograms of folate per day it is recommended that women of child-bearing age aim to have 400 micrograms or 0.4 mg of folate per day. If you are planning to become pregnant, a daily folic acid supplement of at least 500 micrograms per day is also encouraged. A high folate intake is recommended prior to conception because the neural tube grows rapidly in the first six weeks of life, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. It is at this time that folate is required in plentiful amounts. There is some suggestion that folate may also be essential in preventing other birth defects such as cleft palate and heart and urinary problems. Peanuts contain 145 micrograms of folate per 100g and are the highest of any commonly eaten nuts in Australia. A handful of raw peanuts, crushed peanuts on cereal or in smoothies and peanut butter are excellent ways for women of childbearing ages to increase their folate intake. Other good sources of folate include oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, brussel sprouts, baked beans, lentils, and breads and cereals with added folate. Peanuts also contribute valuable iron and zinc, important minerals women need more of, particularly during pregnancy.

Heart Disease
Other recent evidence has shown that folate can protect against heart disease by reducing components which damage blood vessels and cause arteriosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). The antioxidant effects of folate may also be important in preventing certain forms of cancer as well as heart disease. We know that women after menopause have an increased risk of heart disease, and looking at dietary factors to reduce this risk becomes very important.

In addition to providing folate, peanuts are also rich in monounsatured fat which is known to help reduce blood cholesterol levels and therefore help reduce the risk of heart disease. The long-term Nurses Health Study in the United States, which looked at more than 87,000 nurses, found that eating peanuts and peanut butter four or more times a week was associated with a significantly reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The reason why nuts are so beneficial is unclear however it is likely to be a number of factors. As mentioned, peanuts contain mostly unsaturated fats which have beneficial effects on blood cholesterol. In fact, a study in Queensland has found that a diet containing 40 per cent monounsaturated fat (with 50g of peanuts a day) was as least as effective as a low fat diet (20 per cent fat) in reducing total cholesterol by around 10 per cent. Nuts are also high in the amino acid arginine which helps maintain a healthy lining on the arteries. It has also been shown that women with the highest intakes of Vitamin E from foods have a significantly decreased risk of death from coronary heart disease. Nuts, including peanuts are one of the more concentrated food sources of Vitamin E. Peanuts have also been identified as useful source of the phytochemical resveratrol, which is also found in red wine and grapes. This important food component has been also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and of some cancers. The Health Food In A Shell

Weight Control
Although peanuts have been much maligned as being "fattening", there is good evidence to suggest that women can safely include raw, unsalted nuts in their diet and still maintain a healthy weight.

Many Australian women today enjoy a vegetarian lifestyle not only for environmental or religious reasons, but to promote health and wellbeing. A vegetarian diet however, is not without risks, particularly for women. Simply eliminating animal foods can increase the chances of missing out on adequate protein, as well as important minerals like iron and zinc. It is important to substitute appropriate alternatives in the diet such as legumes (including peanuts), soy foods and eggs and dairy foods where accepted. Tossing peanuts into a stir fry, or using crushed nuts on cereal or in smoothies can help boost daily protein, iron and zinc intake.

Next time you do the groceries, do the whole family a favour and don't forget to include raw nuts and peanut butter on the shopping list! INNOVATION & QUALITY: INNOVATION & QUALITY:

History of Innovation
Since the beginning of the peanut industry in Queensland in 1924, there has been significant changes and improvements instigated by the Peanut Company of Australia for both growers and customers alike 1951 - Introduction of Mechanical Threshers 1952 - Seed dressing to increase higher germination of seed 1956 - Sheller building constructed 1958 - Mobile Threshers bags 1965 - Commercial use of Seed Dressings 1966 - Mobile Threshers bulk 1966 - No 1 Cold Room built - capacity 4500MT 1969 - Bulk deliveries to Shelling Plants 1969 - Mechanical Drying of Peanuts 1969 - More Cold Rooms built capacity 2400MT 1972 - First Colour Sorter Installed 1973 - All deliveries stored in silos end of bag storage 1975 - US Hobbs Threshers introduced 1981 - Blanching Plant Commissioned 1981 - Laboratory NATA Registration (aflatoxin) 1982 - Palletised Deliveries to Customers 1986 - Pre-Cleaning Plant Established 1986 - Dust Control Intake 1988 - New Peanut Variety NC-7 higher yielding and higher O/L ratio 1990 - Irrigation Areas Introduced and Developed - ensuring continuity of supply 1990 - Pure Seed Plant built 1990 - Automated Packing 1991 - New Peanut Variety Florunner - higher yielding and higher O/L ratio 1992 - US Magnum Peanut Threshers 1993 - Formfil and Seal Packaging 1993 - Dehumidified Dryers installed assists irrigation farmers in drying crop 1994 - Laser Sorters installed 1995 - New Peanut Variety Streeton higher yielding and drought resistant 1995 - Extension - greater capacity for the Blanching Plant 1996 - HACCP Implementation 1997 - Introduction of Optical Colour Sorting technology 1998 - Drying facilities in Gayndah for Central Burnett farmers 1999 - PCA Microbiology Laboratory PC2 status 1999 - 10,000 Gauss Magnets introduced 2000 - New Raw Trade Line 2000 - New Peanut Variety Conder nut-in-shell variety 2001 - New 3000MT Coldstore and Temperature Controlled Packaging Area 2001 - HACCP Accreditation 2002 - X-ray Sorting technology

2002 - Hi-Oleic Peanut Variety Release SO95R - (10 times greater shelf life) 2003 - Innovation And Technical Centre Opening 2003 - Farmers Stock Dryers installed at Tolga, Atherton Tablelands

PCA today is still committed to the continued development and expansion of the Australian Peanut Industry as the opening of our $1.76 million Innovation And Technical Centre in Kingaroy demonstrates.

What is Aflatoxin? Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin (ie a fungal toxin) produced by mould, in particular by Aspergillus flavus (ie Aspergillus flavus mycotoxin). A. flavus is found in many crops, including some peanuts, especially when they are grown during drought PCA has one of the worlds top 10 testing laboratories for aflatoxin as judged by the Smallies Program (an international testing proficiency program that measures 75-80 international laboratories and their ability to produce accurate results). Depending on the levels, aflatoxin can severely affect the liver and is a known Class I (World Health Organisation) human carcinogen. In many developing countries aflatoxin is a major health risk to humans and animals due to the high levels of contaminated product consumed. In Australia, aflatoxin is not a health risk because of the thorough testing done at various stages along the food chain and the effective technology and procedures employed by agribusinesses such as PCA. PCA monitors the level of aflatoxin in peanuts very carefully to ensure contaminated products are not released to consumers. Samples are taken on delivery to PCA to determine aflatoxin levels, and after each processing point, as part of PCA's customer clearance protocols. New capabilities within the Innovation and Technical Centre allow PCA scientists to challenge existing testing procedures and results and review research to increase sensitivity and decrease costs. Pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination most commonly occurs as a result of drought stress during the last four to six weeks of the growing season. The "danger zone" for farmers is during the crop maturation period when a combination of high soil temperatures (between 25-30 decrees C) and drought stress may lead to toxin formation. On-farm drying procedures and storage parameters have also been developed to minimise the risk of aflatoxin developing. Minimising the production of aflatoxin onfarm reduces the health risk even further, and minimises the cost carried by farmers and PCA.

The Australian peanut industry, led by PCA, has an excellent record of eliminating aflatoxin-affected peanuts from the food chain to supply a product which is well below the minimum level 15 ppb (parts per billion). More information? Visit these websites: Queensland DPI US Department of Agriculture

The Peanut Company of Australia has earned an international reputation for supplying only the best peanuts. Accreditation is an important part of our quality service to customers HACCP - What is it? HALAL - What is it? MRP - What is it?

In 2001, PCA successfully achieved HACCP accreditation. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. HACCP is an internationally-recognised food safety certification system. After external assessment, the Peanut Company of Australia received HACCP certification on June 4, 2001, for its food management system for the manufacture of peanut products, including raw, blanched and roasted. PCA uses its HACCP plan as a mechanism to ensure continuous improvement and is externally audited annually to ensure it is complying with the international standard. The following has been adapted from the United States Food and Drug Administration's information sheet "HACCP: A State-of-the-Art Approach to Food Safety" What is HACCP? The US Food and Drug Administration developed the HACCP system after the success of a food safety program developed for the US space program. The NASA program focussed on preventing hazards that could cause food-borne illnesses by applying science-based controls throughout the food manufacturing process, from raw material to finished products. Traditionally, industry has depended on spot-checks of manufacturing conditions and random sampling of final products to ensure safe food. This approach, however, tends to be reactive, rather than preventive and is less efficient than the HACCP (pronounced "hassap") system. HACCP has been endorsed by the US National Academy of Sciences, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (an international food standard-setting organisation),

and the US National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods. HACCP involves seven principles: Analyze hazards. Potential hazards associated with a food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazard could be biological, such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments. Identify critical control points. These are points in a food's production from its raw state through processing and shipping to consumption by the consumer - at which the potential hazard can be controlled or eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling, packaging and metal detection. Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point. For a cooked food, for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes. Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points. Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored. Establish corrective actions. These actions will be be taken when monitoring shows that a critical limit has not been met - for example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met. Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly. For example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly. Establish effective recordkeeping to document the HACCP system. This includes records of hazards and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems.

Each of these principles must be backed by sound scientific knowledge: for example, published microbiological studies on time and temperature factors for controlling foodborne pathogens.

In 2002, PCA successfully achieved Halal accreditation. Halal is an Arabic word which means lawful or permitted. Halal foods are those permitted for consumption in the Koran. Halal certification assures Moslem people they can enjoy PCA products without the risk of consuming any unlawful animal by-products. As a result of PCAs stringent quality controls, aflatoxin capabilities, expertise and knowledge, and adherence to Worlds Best Practice, we are the only nut manufacturer in the world to have a Multiple Release Permit (MRP) into New Zealand for our export product.