13 Mar 2012

Harvesting in the wet costing Canterbury croppers

6:30 am on 13 March 2012

Canterbury grain and seed growers are getting crops harvested despite the persistent wet weather, but it is coming at a cost.

The lack of a decent run of dry, sunny weather has meant growers in the country's main grain region are having to harvest crops with high moisture levels.

Federated Farmers grain and seed chair Ian Mackenzie says that means they are having to be dried, at great expense.

He says on his own farm, he had not been able to harvest anything since the middle of January without having to dry it.

"Two thousand tonnes of wheat with drying costs about $40 to $60 a tonne. It's 15 to 20% of the value of the grain'" he says. "It's a substantial cost of top of all the other costs grain farmers have incurred."

He also says farmers who are harvesting at substantially higher than normal moistures have to be able to hold the grain until they can get it to dryer, which creates logistics problems for storage.

Canterbury farmers managed to get some grain harvested at the weekend before rain struck again, but a more settled period is forecast this week.

Mr Mackenzie says it is a frustrating finale to what has been an excellent growing season for grain and seed crops.

He predicts it will be the final straw for some arable farmers, who will convert to dairying.