19 Jul 2019

Regional Wrap

From On the Farm, 9:13 pm on 19 July 2019
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Photo: Sophie Barnes

In Northland, calves are arriving onto dry paddocks.  We're told the region has had absolutely 'sterling' conditions.  Forty to 50 millimeters of rain did arrive this week but it has all soaked in.  There's no pugging, plenty of feed and cows haven't needed to eat too much too much to keep warm.  However farmers are being warned not to be complacent - winter will come!

The Pukekohe district in Auckland's south has had an unsettled week with rain and showers.  Temperatures have been higher than expected in mid July which means that crops are growing steadily.

Waikato has been damp but isn't drenched. Water tables are still low and if it could be arranged for the warm temperatures to remain, farmers would be happy to have more rain.  Pasture growth rates have even lifted a fraction which is most unusual for July. Calving's underway and the first lambs are appearing. On the financial front dairy farmers are starting the year cautiously - they're hoping Fonterra will stick to its forecast payout...last year it didn't. On sheep and beef farms there's confidence beef prices will hold and farmers are looking forward to an improvement on already good prices for their lambs.  

Bay of Plenty has been showery and cool. Kiwifruit pruners have had to dodge the rain - they don't work in the wet because of there's a risk of spreading PSA.  A few more avocados are coming onto the local market. Avocados, which usually have an on-year and an off-year,  were due to have an on-year this year but while it will be bigger than last - it won't be a bumper season.

King Country's seen rain - 100 millimetres plus in some parts.  That should have been very good news because, to the end of June, the region was 50 per cent behind in rainfall for the year to date. However farmers would much rather have catch up rain in November and December and not in the middle of winter.  It has been nice and mild though. A few early lambs are arriving in northern King Country.

Taranaki has been wet and windy but still not that cold.  The province has already had its usual rainfall for July - it seems the weather gods are making up for a dry June. Grass is growing well and coastal dairy farms, which calve earlier than inland farms, are in the thick of it.

The East Coast has been tropical this week - unseasonally warm . There's been rain, grass growth and the region is set up for a good spring. The farmer we rang says lambing won't start on his property until early September. Scanning results of 200 percent indicate it should be a good one.

Hawkes Bay was a bit cool on Friday but has been beautifully mild with one day mid week hitting 18 degrees. Grape growers would like the temperatures to take a plunge - to kill the bugs. They are busy with pruning - it's about half way through.   The hill country is dry -  good for getting around the farm but growth has been slow. Farmers are a bit nervous that the lack of moisture now means it will all come in August when they are in the thick of lambing.

One of the Ag consultants we speak to in Manawatu was selling raffle tickets for Scouts at Feilding's farmers' market when we rang on Friday and had very cold toes.  He says people have forgotten what winter usually feels like - it has come as a bit of a shock after an eight week run of good weather. In the last week or so 100 millimeters of rain has fallen. He says there's still a bit of grass around and cow condition going into calving is good.

Wairarapa has had some rain, ground temperatures are creeping slowly up and the days are a bit longer. One farmer says his farm's not comfortable for feed so he's put fertiliser on three weeks earlier than usual. He's looking forward to August when a bit more grass will grow.

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Photo: supplied

It's been wet in the Nelson/Motueka region this week so grape and pruning's slowed right down. In apple orchards tree planting's on hold as growers don't want to pug up the ground with machinery so it's frustrating for them but, on the upside, the rain is helping to replenish aquifers.

A farmer in Marlborough we talked too says there's been 100 millimetres of rain in the gauge this week. He farms about 30 kilometres north of Blenheim and is well into lambing. So far survival rates have been good. Pruning and wrapping continues in the province's vineyards.

A Grey Valley dairy farmer on the West Coast says there have been a few fine days here and but it's mainly been wet. He's not due to start calving for another three weeks but there have already been a couple of early arrivals. As well as being on grass, the cows are also eating fodder beet, silage and swedes.

The very dry conditions this winter in Canterbury seem to have ended with rain last week and more forecast for the weekend. Dairy farmers are right on the cusp of calving which will become their focus for the next couple of months. Other farmers are busy completing winter maintenance jobs before the busy spring period. Tree planting efforts on the plains have ramped up with a lot of natives being planted under and around irrigation systems.

Central Otago's warmed up a bit since we spoke to our contact in the Oturehua Valley three weeks ago. He was hoping to go curling as the ice was nearly thick enough on the Idaburn dam, but now there's hardly any ice, in fact there's been 16 millimetres of rain this week. Usually that would be snow. Farmers are getting into pre-lamb machine shearing, while blade or hand shearing's all done. Some farmers like blade shearing as it leaves on more cover so the sheep can stand the cold better. Stock are on brassicas but it's sticky underfoot.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

The sun has been competing with rain showers over coastal Southland. With temperatures reaching 10 degrees, grass keeps growing. A farmer at Wallacetown says it's still quite wet underfoot but he can still get his tractor onto paddocks. Sheep are being moved regularly to stop them pugging up the ground and are behind wire with a menu of kale, swedes and baleage.