14 Dec 2018

Regional Wrap

From On the Farm, 9:07 pm on 14 December 2018

What's happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland has been dry - and a rain shower would be a nice Christmas present.  Dairy farmers are being told to focus on the things they can control - like keeping production up - because they can't control the milk price. Cow condition is good.

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Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

As of Thursday, Pukekohe was having a fine week. Many varieties of vegetables are still of good quality and in heavy supply. Harvesting machinery has operated well in the dryer soils lifting potatoes and onions are being clipped by hand. Onion growers are feeling confident they will receive good returns for their main crop in February because of lower worldwide yields, although that all depends on the weather at harvest.

Waikato had a hair curling electrical storm on Thursday - the torrential rain stopped traffic. Some areas did miss out, though. Maize and grass are growing well and milk production is holding - it's about 2-4 per cent up on last year. Fonterra farmers are grumbling about the co-op clawing back 15 cents per kilogram of milk solids from their advance payments. An agricultural consultant says most cash flows are already in deficit.

Bay of Plenty had 17 days in a row with some rain - a four day break and now it has been raining on and off again for the past four days. There haven't been big dollops - just enough to stop shearing and silage making; hugely frustrating. Young stock could do with some sun on their backs. However feed is climbing over the fences

Taranaki is looking very green - and farmers are complaining that it is harder to manage a surplus of feed than a deficit. Milk production is about 7 percent ahead of last season.

Across to Gisborne and electrical storms have been rumbling around the hills for the past five weeks. Vines are growing beautifully, flowering has finished and the fruit is set. Yields may be a little down on expectations. The next job is to trim the vines and open up the canopies. The vineyard owner we spoke to said it is a good time to have a glass of Gisborne chardonnay to mark the approach to Christmas - but he would....Pastoral farmers won't be complaining; there is an old adage that if the maize is up to the top wire by Christmas it is going to be a good year. And it is. Pohutukawa are out six weeks early and even the jacarandas are flowering. 

Hawkes Bay has had thunder showers too and rain every day. It has been quite cool. Lambs are being weaned and farmers are disappointed they are not the the weights they'd like. It's been so wet some of the contracting guys are struggling getting onto paddocks; they cannot get  hay done and quality is starting to drop off. All grizzling aside, it is fantastic to have had the water - but it does bring its challenges.

Summer is on its way

Summer is on its way Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

It had been dry in Manawatu until Thursday night when between 20 and 40mm of welcome rain was delivered. It will be great for the crops. Hill country farmers are getting their first drafts of lambs away at decent weights.

It would be nice to see the sun in Wairarapa - it has been a week of cloudy drizzly weather and, with all the wet, some brassica plants are rotting in the ground. Cereal crops won't yield as well as they should either. Farmers are busy weaning well-grown lambs and are receiving record money for them at the works. Store lambs are very hard to come by.

South Island

After a fine start the Nelson / Motueka region had a cloudy and damp end to the week. Despite stop-start showers the ground is still quite dry so irrigation systems are on. Everyone is busy pruning and thinning pip fruit to regulate crop loads. 

Lamb weaning is in full swing on Marlborough hill farms.Weights are slightly back on last year due to the cool, damp conditions. With so much feed around cattle are looking  tip top. In vineyards the Sauvignon Blanc vines are in flower. The Pinot and Chardonnay grapes have flowered already but some bunches failed to flower due to the lower than usual temperatures. This is likely to lead to a slight drop in grape production, but not quality.

A farmer at Runanga on the West Coast says he was worrying about things getting too dry, but after week of rain that concern has fallen off the radar. Milking is ticking along okay and bulls are out with dairy cows to clean up after the AI technicians. Most winter crops are in and silage making is starting to tail off.

Canterbury has been wet this week with significant rain especially on the upper plains. Some farmers on heavier soils are now saying that they are going to miss the boat on spring sowing and are unsure when, or if, they will be able to plant. When it does dry out what is planted will most likely change due to the later sowing.The way things are looking at the moment, irrigators could remain idle for all of November and December which is very unusual. 

Farmers in Southern Otago have never made so much silage. Most pits are full so there is tonnes of feed in store. Milk production is a bit behind on last year due to the recent flooding and despite a lack of quality feed. Everyone is making the most of the sunny days this week all the work done and dusted in the lead up to Christmas.
Our contact at Waimahaka in Southland is making silage today. He says there has been no rain this week and the ground is drying out but it is great for tractor work.

Crops could do with a dose of rain to ensure they strike. Artificial insemination of cows is continuing on dairy farms, milk production is holding up and the first draft of lambs are being weaned on sheep farms.




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