23 Feb 2017

Maize crops 'worst in 30 years'

1:27 pm on 23 February 2017

Farmers in drought-hit Northland battling with a shortage of stock feed are also experiencing the worst maize harvest in 30 years.

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Photo: 123rf

Northland Regional Council is warning farmers to be careful with feed reserves and not get too excited about the recent rain.

The council said the drought meant some farmers had already used up their extra supplementary feed, which was being saved for the autumn and winter months.

Northland dairy farmer Even Sneath said it had been a terrible season for growing crops.

"The maize crops are about half of what they normally are. I've been growing maize for over 30 years and this is the worst crop I've ever had.

"We'll probably only do a bit over 10,000 or 12,000 kilograms of dry matter per hectare - that's hardly even break even.

Mr Sneath said he was keeping a tight rein on the feed he had, as it was expensive to buy.

"We're going to have to watch feed going into autumn, watch cow condition, I'm not going to buy any more feed than what I've already got at this stage. I'll just manage what we've got and use it at strategic times."

Mr Sneath said he might have to dry off earlier this year because his cows were losing weight.

"The cows have lost some condition over the dry period, we've probably lost one condition score.

"Instead of milking until the 25th of May I'll have to dry off at the beginning of May... so that means we'll lose 3000 to 4000 kilograms of milk solids - at $6kgms it doesn't take long to mount up to a few dollars."