Stahmann Farms is the Southern Hemisphere's largest pecan grower operating the "Trawalla" pecan farm at Pallamallawa (NSW) and Australia's only commercial pecan shelling, value-adding and packing plant located in Toowoomba (QLD).
The Toowoomba plant processes the majority of Australia's pecan crop and is also the premier sheller of Australian walnuts, a leading processor and marketer of Australian macadamias, an exporter of Australian almonds and a retail packer. During the harvest season staff numbers employed by Stahmann Farms expands to around 120.
Stahmann Farms produce a range of products and operate extensive distribution and marketing services. Stahmann attribute their success to the legacy provided by the founder Deane Stahmann and to innovation, commitment towards their growers and operators, and the emphasis placed on adherence to the highest standards in food quality and safety.
Although Stahmann Farms purchase nuts from a number of local growers, the majority of pecan nuts processed at the Toowoomba plant are grown on their own Trawalla orchard.
Trawalla is situated on land formerly used for cotton and broad acre cropping and is now the largest and most productive pecan orchard in the southern hemisphere. It's a high yielding 700 acre property located about 35 km east of Moree in New South Wales. The site has ideal soil, climate and microclimate conditions for the growing of pecans. A good rainfall is supplemented by water drawn from the Gwydir River which almost encircles the property. The 70,000 pecan trees grown at Trawalla predominently comprise the Witchita and Western Schley varieties. Pecan nuts are dehusked at Trawalla prior to being transported to the Toowoomba processing plant.
Guided tours of the Trawalla Pecan Nut Farm, including a Moree Township familiarisation, and courtesy pick up and return service to any accommodation house or destination in Moree, are available from Tourism Moree Guided Agri Tours . Contact the Moree Tour Agency for dates and bookings.
Left: Trawalla pecan orchard east of Moree
Processing and Products
The Stahmann processing plant is located at Toowoomba and has been in operation since 1982 processing up to 6,000 tons of pecan nut-in-shell annually. Macadamia nuts have been processed at the Toowoomba plant since the early 1990s. A new state-of-the-art macadamia process line was installed in 2005 raising the combined processing capacity at the Toowoomba plant to 12,000 tonnes annually.
Stahmann Farms is proud of their reputation for meeting and exceeding the highest internal and international standards in food quality and safety for all their food products. The processing plant is accredited by NASAA ( National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia). Products produced at the Toowoomba plant include a large range of pecan and macadamia kernels as well as value-adding services such as roasting and flavouring.
||The Stahmann Riverside brand is well known in Australian supermarkets. Stahmann also produce and manage a range of private label brands. Information on products can be found on the wholesale and retail nut pages of the Stahmann Farms website.
Left: Richard Genest, General Manager, Sales and Marketing
Right: Dry roaster flavouring processing
Pecan Production and the Environment
Stahmann Farms have been adopting environmental best practices for a number of years. They have demonstrated that this approach not only benefits the environment, farm staff and consumers, but also increases productivity and reduces costs on chemical intervention and labour. Stahmann Farms has also pioneered the development of insecticide and pesticide-free farming methods and environmentally sensitive practices. For over 20 years Stahmann Farms has been a strong supporter of the use of biological control technologies to control pest species. Their funding of CSIRO research has resulted in the virtual eradication of the green vegie bug and the stem girdler through biological control agents.
||Hein van Kralingen is employed at Stahmann Farms as Research & Development and New Orchard Development Manager. Hein's duties include irrigation, soil management, canopy management, tree nutrition, nut yield and quality, nursery responsibility and pest and disease management. Hein is passionate about preserving the clean natural attributes of Trawalla and the surrounding environment. His mix of responsibilities, along with Stahmann Farms long established environment friendly philosophy and integrated pest management strategy, provide Hein with the opportunity to showcase Stahmann Farms as a leader in environment sustainability within the Australian horticultural industry.
Stahmann is also investing in soil biology to reduce, and eventually eradicate, herbicide use in line with its chemical-free philosophy. The use of biological agents involving the placement of micro-organism cultures through the flood irrigation system increases organic matter in the soil. This contributes to soil and tree health and reduces fertilizer requirements. A biological control agent to control eucalypt borers is currently being investigated.
|Hein van Kralingen
A critical feature of the Stahmann purchasing system is complete transparency. The factory is open to growers so they can see exactly what happens to their product from the moment it arrives on the premises to when it is sold to the end user.
Depending on the seasonal outlook for each commodity two basic purchasing models are offered:
The majority of Australian growers process and market their pecans through Stahmann Farms facilities. To ensure these nuts meet and exceed the expectations of customers, and the exacting Stahmann standards, an exhaustive quality control regime operates. Growers also receive advice on aspects of orchard development and management. Stahmann Farms also purchases high quality walnuts and macadamias, as well as pecans.
Stahmann also works with growers to structure a unique purchase offering which meets their risk/return expectations and cash flow requirements.
- Fixed Priced Contracts – these are used to lock in some security regarding growers’ returns and cash flow early in the season.
- Market Based Returns – this system ensures growers leave no cash on the table. The gross value of the kernel in the market place is captured a fixed processing and a marketing fee is deducted. This ensures growers get the best price possible in any market.
A nursery has been established to supply trees for the future expansion of Trawalla. The nursery includes an in-field nursery where trees are produced that will be grafted in the nursery and transplanted as three-year old bare-rooted trees. A potted tree nursery has also been developed where grafted trees are produced in pots which will be transplanted into the field three seasons in the pot.
Stahmann now handle over 15% of the Australian macadamia crop through the facility in Toowoomba and have recently installed a walnut cracking capacity to handle up to 2,000MT of NIS per annum. This along with an expanded retail presence and continued international marketing activities ensure a sound return for growers involved in any type of tree nut in Australia.
Stahmann Farms is excited by the continued interest in and consumption of pecans around the world and in particular in the Australian domestic market and China. On the back of this consistent demand Stahmann already have over 200 hectares of pecans under development in its own right and is keen to talk with growers from around the country interested in working together to expand Australia's pecan production capacity. To support this increased production the processing and value adding capacity continues to grow and diversify.