Northland could become the home of Kiwi-grown peanuts as the first official trial harvest wraps up.
Pic's Peanut Butter founder Bruce "Pic" Picot is hopeful that outcomes of the Northland crop will bring him one step closer to a 100 per cent New Zealand-made spread.
Northland's sub-tropical climate is the main reason it's been picked as a potential location for a local supply of peanuts.
"That's what Northland has to offer, it's got good warm soil temperatures and very friable soil," said Picot.
The company currently uses peanuts from Australia and Brazil for its spread, but the Covid-19 pandemic has interrupted imports over the past few years.
"With the delays in shipping and increasing costs of shipping, it's been quite a challenge," said Picot.
The nuts are growing in five locations: two farms in Te Kōpuru, two on Māori land near Kai Iwi Lakes and Awanui, and one farm near Kaingaroa.
The $998,750 project is led by Northland Inc with funding provided by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Picot Productions and Northland Inc.
The MPI Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is contributing more than $690,000. Research expertise is being provided by Plant & Food Research.
The harvest of field trial peanut crops in Northland finished this month, looking into the feasibility of commercially growing the nuts in New Zealand.
The coming spring season will see the number of sites expand to seven across Northland and the nuts will be tested for taste and quality.
Northand Inc acting chief executive Vaughan Cooper said establishing a peanut industry in Northland could create a range of benefits for our regional economy.
"Not only would peanut crops provide an economic boost, but the plants themselves also restore the soil and put nitrogen back in, creating a richer environment for the next crop in the cycle," said Cooper.
If initial indications are proven correct, Northand Inc believes it will provide confidence to investors and landowners that diversifying into peanut growing is the right move for Northland.
"This trial allows us to assess the opportunity and potential benefits of creating a new industry within Northland while taking the risk out of diversification for our farmers," said Cooper.
The venture has yielded 20 kilograms of hi-oleic peanuts and four jars of peanut butter from the first Northland crop.
One of the four jars was sold at a Trademe Charity auction for $3150, with all proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Far North non-profit Papa Honez One Whānau At A Time was nominated by Pic's social media community to win a jar.
The other two jars were saved for display in Nelson at Pic's Peanut Butter World and Nelson Provincial Museum.
When run at scale it's estimated the crops could produce enough nuts for 4500 jars of peanut butter per hectare, but Pic wants to double this to around 10,000 over time.
"I guess ultimately the proof will be in the peanuts," said Picot.