6 Sep 2019

Regional Wrap

From On the Farm, 9:10 pm on 6 September 2019
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Photo: Marg Forde

Rain has been welcomed in Hawkes Bay and in Otago farmers would like ewes to hold onto their lambs until the threat of snow passes.

And now to our look to the regions -  first up a vegetable report.  We've heard in the news this week vegetable growers have had a hard time this winter - because it's been so warm there's been an oversupply and to make it worse it hasn't been cold enough for people to eat comfort food and lots of roast veges but Farmers Markets NZ tells us most of the country is still munching through winter brassicas with plenty of freshly picked cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale around. The citrus crop is well through, and Gisborne's juicy sweet navel oranges are available. New season avocados are now plentiful in Waikato, Bay of Plenty and further north. Farmers' Markets up and down the country are getting increasingly excited as rumours circulate that this year's asparagus isn't far away. Asparagus signals a real change in season and puts a smile on everyone's face! Well apart from that tiny percentage of the population that can't bear it!

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

On farms; Northland's just had the worst few days of winter.  It's been bitterly cold by Northland standards - a cool 14 degrees with strong southerly winds and showers,  The east coast has had 60 to 70 millimetres of rain and the west about ten.  That followed on from a lovely sunny spell - which was a good kick start to spring.  After the return of winter, clay country will be very sticky.

Pukekohe had a sunny start to the week and then rain returned - 30 millimetres by Friday morning.  Vegetable growers are working as much as they can in any dry period. Warmer temperatures and the moisture have stimulated plant growth.  The Government's discussion document with proposals to improve water quality is now in the public arena and vegetable growers are coming to the realisation that production practices may become more restrictive. They're feeling there's little doubt that New Zealand-grown vegetables will be more expensive to grow in future.

The farmer we spoke to in South Waikato has 160 cows left to calve out of  940. Calving's been underway for six weeks - although he says it feels like two months.  It's been one of the better growing seasons so there's plenty for cows to eat and they're milking well.  The calves of cows mated to Herefords are heading off to new homes in Hawkes Bay.

Bay of Plenty has had three days of rain and wind, Ninety-three millimetres of rain has landed on our contact's farm this week.  Lower country farms will be a bit spongy.  Lambing is well through but the lambs could do with some sun on their backs - it really perks them up.  Grass covers are reasonable but the dairy guys are better off for feed than dry stock farmers. Soil temperatures haven't dropped below 11 degrees all winter so there's really not much cause for complaint!

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

King Country has had three good fine days with rain at night. Everything's greening up. A fair few lambs are popping out - the farmer we rang is expecting more than 1500.

In the Gisborne region lambing's going well; it has just started in the higher country and has finished on the front country. It's been warm and the ewes have plenty of feed to tuck in to.

Hawkes Bay’s been wet for a change. The Heretaunga plains had about 50 milimetres - just what the farmer ordered, because there was a bit of dust kicking up behind the cows.  Last season' s lambs are growing very well in the warm weather.  Everyone's trying to digest the detail of the Action for Healthy Waterways proposal released this week ..

Earlier this week Manawatu had a run of beautiful warm weather and heaters had a rest for the night.  Fifteen millimetres of rain fell overnight on Thursday and was needed - which is an odd thing to say in  September.  Lambing has started in the hills where feed is tight.  

Wairarapa has also had some rain this week - nothing too heavy so it was well received.  Farmers are hoping for a good spring - they’re feeling stressed and under attack so challenging weather is the last thing they need.  

In the Nelson/Motueka region the weather started off fine but rain arrived on Wednesday night, it poured down on Thursday and was drizzling on Friday.  The moisture was welcomed though as conditions were getting quite dry but it did put the brakes on pruning and tree training. When the sun comes out oil sprays will be going on apple trees for mites and scale and copper for bacterial diseases. The commercial peony crop's at knee height. Harvesting's due to begin in mid-October when the stems are about 900 millimetres high.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Marlborough's been quite cool and there’s been 45 mm of rain this week and casualties are expected on the lamb front with lambing full on in the hill country. Grass growth has slowed up and it looks like September will be a trying month.  The last of the trading hoggets are coming out of the vineyard and there're fetching good prices. Pruning's finishing up and the RSE workers have a week to do their shopping before they head home.

The farmer we rang at Ikamatua on the West Coast says it's been good weather for calving; a few showers but mainly sunny this week. About two thirds of his herd of 600 cows have had their calves. The milking shed's been going for a month now and the last batch of colostrum for the season was picked up on Wednesday. Soil temperatures are at 11 degrees so the grass is shooting out of the ground.

A wet week in Canterbury has stopped all cultivation and planting for now. Pasture growth and covers are good partly due to the good winter, some farmers are even making some very early baleage where covers are too high. The last of the tree planting is happening before things warm up and dry out, however already there are plans for a lot more trees due to go in next year.

It's a been a cold end to the week in Otago with the prospect of snow, and while some lambing has started farmers don't want too many just yet. It's been an easy winter with the nice insurance of plenty of winter feed left. Farmers are looking forward to higher temperatures though to get the grass growing. Milk tankers are buzzing around the roads.

There's been a bit of drizzle along Coastal Southland but it’s mainly been cloudy with the odd patch of sun so the ground's drying up nicely.  When we were talking to our contact at Waimahaka he was out harvesting fodder beet. There's a surplus so he's going to put what is still in the ground aside to feed stock early next year.  Once the last of fodder beet's harvested he'll prepare the ground for green-feed oats. His herd is about 70 percent through calving and milk production's rising steadily. On sheep farms ewes have been crutched and are due start lambing next week.