1 Oct 2021

Good seed makes a good crop

From Country Life, 9:27 pm on 1 October 2021

The sowing season is in full swing at Andrew Currie's Avonmore farm near Methven in Canterbury. When Country Life turned up the third generation cropping farmer was drilling spring malting barley.

It'll eventually end up in beer - but first Andrew needs to grow and harvest the seed which will then be planted by other farmers.    

Andrew Currie drilling barley at Avonmore Farm.

Drilling barley in Canterbury Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Andrew is contracted by seed companies to multiply lines of seeds for grasses and brassica crops.

"Some are multiplied for the Northern hemisphere seed production as we can grow outside their growing season".

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Avonmore farm also grows linseed, lupins, Hungarian millet, sunflower and camelina, as well as ancient grains like buck wheat and quinoa.

Qunioa originated with the Incas of Bolivia, Chile and Peru, Andrew says.

"It's supposed to grow in altitude but we have no issues with it. It can be challenging to establish, easy to grow, but difficult to harvest."  

Andrew sells his white, golden and flaked quinoa through Avonmore farm's Canterbury Quinoa website, where he also markets his amaranth grain, millet and sunflower seeds.

Not all the seed crops Andrew has grown have been a success and he's tried many. Frost got the better of the perilla and chia seeds.

"The nights are just too cold in Canterbury to grow some of these crops," he admits.

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes