16 Jul 2017

'Nightmare' kumara season for farmers

3:13 pm on 16 July 2017
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Photo: RNZ

A kumara famer has described this year as a nightmare, with horrendous weather cutting the yield of red kumara by up to 45 percent.

The low yield of all varieties has had a big impact on prices as Statistics New Zealand reported kumara hit a high of more than $8 a kilo last month.

John Adolf from the kumara co-operative Delta Produce, said this year had been a shock for farmers after last season's bumper crop.

A wet, cold spring, a long dry summer and heavy downpours through autumn caused major headaches for farmers, he said.

At one point they had 150 people in one field getting their hands into the mud trying to pull kumara from the ground.

"[We] threw heaps of labour at it. It got too wet to even drive tractors on the paddocks with harvestors on the backs.

"So old school stuff, ploughing and everybody playing in the mud trying to find the kumara."

Another kumara farmer, Andre de Bruin, said despite the difficulty getting the crop out of the ground, there would be kumara in the shops for the rest of the year.

He said the supply would be lower than usual, and the prices would stay high to manage the demand.

Mr de Bruin said farmers and labourers had done well to get the crop out of the ground through some really tough conditions.