16 Aug 2019

Regional Wrap

From On the Farm, 9:07 pm on 16 August 2019
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Photo: RNZ/Sally Round

In Waikato a dairy consultant says it's been the best winter he can remember. A good week of weather in Canterbury has allowed cropping farmers to get on with planting spring barley.

Northland's been a bit more wintry this week with some rain and a chill to the air but some uplifting sunshine between showers. The east coast has been drier than usual so there are not too many complaints about the wet. Feed levels on farms are low but passable. Lambs are arriving as are calves on dairy and beef properties.

Around Pukekohe the last 18 days have brought rain or showers. Finding a long dry spell to complete necessary work is becoming a challenge and a totally fine day or two would be welcome - at least the weather isn't cold. Growers are relieved the government is finally considering protecting New Zealand's most productive land.

In Waikato a dairy consultant we speak to says it's been the best winter he can remember - the mildest, it's relatively dry and pasture covers are at record highs for the time of year. Milking cows are being fully fed on grass in many cases - nothing extra's needed and controlling the pasture is an issue.  Having said that the past couple of weeks have been a bit damp.  As for this week's announcement from Fonterra that there'll be no dividend for its shareholders, we're told that while farmers are very disappointed, generally they believe in the co-operative structure and think it's better to air the dirty laundry now and go on to fortify the balance sheet.

King County had 200 millimetres of rain for July and there's been 100 since. Paddocks near Piopio have been underwater.

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Photo: carol

In the past 30 days, Taranaki has had 25 days with rain.  Dairy farmers who are dusting their pastures with minerals cows need after calving are frustrated because it's washing off in the rain. The farmer we spoke to is now adding magnesium and calcium to supplementary feed just to make sure the cows are getting the recommended dose. He says all of his low breeding worth - or less productive cows were mated to the Speckle Park beef breed and have produced beautiful calves that are fetching 300 dollars each at a week old.

Across the island and Gisborne's had exceptional lambing weather. Back country farmers have their fingers crossed they don't get a big storm when lambing starts there in a couple of weeks time. People are a little concerned they're behind on average rainfall - the order is for a couple of hundred millimetres between now and October, but not in one big dollop. Navel oranges are coming off trees- a citrus grower says people like them because they are sweet and delicious but don't want to pay for them. They'll buy one or two but the oranges require a bit of work getting in to and are over-juicy so you can't eat them over your desk.  

Hawkes Bay needs a winter soaking. There's been enough rain to grow the most grass ever seen at this time of year but not much more. Lambs are arriving in good weather. A bit of barley is starting to go in - it's destined for breweries.  Stags in Hawkes Bay, Waikato and Canterbury are being well looked after in the build up to velveting.  It's worth a lot at the moment, $100 to $140 a kilogram and some animals yield five kilos. The velvet will start to be taken off late next month.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Rangitikei has been incredibly wet but after a few days of sunshine it's started to dry out and the world is looking like a better place.  The first lambs arrived yesterday on our contact's farm - he says it's a bit daunting when you know a tidal wave of 10-thousand are expected in the next few weeks.

Horowhenua has had some great weather which has allowed the fields to dry out. Soil temperatures are a little above average and the production of green veggies is going well - they're a bargain. The first of this season's asparagus is starting to poke its tips out of the ground, a couple of weeks early.  The only problem is the RSE workers who are due to come from the Pacific to help harvest the crop may not arrive in time to pick it!

There's still four or five weeks of apple pruning to go in the Nelson/Motueka region. In kiwifruit orchards the bulk of the grafting's done and pruning and training-down should be finished by the end of the month. The weather's been settled enough for contractors to get trucks into orchards to apply fertiliser and lime.

Marlborough's been chilly, wet and windy and there's a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains. Despite this, temperatures are ahead of normal and grass is growing. Some fruit trees are starting to blossom early and daffodils are coming out.  Lambing's underway on hill farms. Even though scanning percentages are down farmers are hoping for excellent survival rates.

It hasn't been great weather for calving up the Grey Valley on the West Coast. Our contact says it's been raining in fits and starts and heavy weekend showers are in the forecast. His heifers are calving first.  The main herd starts next week.

A good week of weather in Canterbury has allowed cropping farmers to get on with planting spring barley before the next period of wet weather. Lambing's mostly underway across the region and everyone's hoping for an improved schedule for the coming year.

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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

There was a very cold start to calving in South Otago last week with blizzard-like conditions. Since then conditions have improved and our contact in the Taieri region says his herd is now about 2/3rds of the way though. His cows are on baleage and grass. Milking is going well.

It's been wet and cold in Southland. A farmer at Waimahaka had 20 millimetres in the rain gauge for this week, so not a huge amount, but after recent snow it's very muddy under foot. She'd love a spell of dry weather now that calving's underway. Calf rearers in the shed are feeding colostrum, meal and hay to newborns. Most of the bobbies will go to the works at four days. With enough cows coming into the shed the tanker was due for the first time on Friday. On sheep farms there's  plenty of grass around and ewes are behind wires getting ready for lambing that starts in three weeks' time.