4 Jun 2021

On the Farm - a wrap of farming conditions around NZ

From On the Farm, 9:07 pm on 4 June 2021
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Photo: Susan Murray/RNZ

Northland's been mild and has had a little rain. Hundreds of people turned out to a meeting in Kawakawa on Wednesday night, many of them farmers up in arms about notices they had received from the Far North District Council. Forty three percent of the Far North has been designated significant natural areas, and farmers fear it'll impact on the way they farm.

Pukekohe vegetable growers have had a week of  showers and fine periods. Growth has been continuing in mild to cool temperatures.

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Photo: Susan Murray/RNZ

Most areas in Waikato have had good pasture growth through May. The ag economist we spoke to is in the middle of doing his annual financial  survey of farmers and says dairy  farmers will likely have had an exceptionally good year and are probably in for an even better one next year. He's asking them what they intend to spend their money on, as they can't hop over to Europe and suspects they can't buy a new car or tractor given the shortage of computer chips needed for their manufacture.   On the sheep front the schedule for lambs is very good.

Bay of Plenty had a bit more rain earlier in the week rain, nearly 60 millimetres on our contact's farm over Saturday Sunday and Monday.  He says even though they didn't really need it he'll take every bit so the water table can rebuild. He's well off for feed and feels spoiled compared to other farmers around the country. He's shearing at the moment, with a cover comb.  Wool prices lifted by 30 cents a kilogramme last week so he's hoping they stay there.  Some of the last kiwifruit orchards are being picked.

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Photo: Susan Murray/RNZ

King Country's had some good frost and good fog. Bull sales are on around Taumarunui and Angus bulls have been selling well, averaging about 8 thousand dollars each.

Some Taranaki farms are absolutely swimming in grass.  A farmer who changed farms this week left behind more than double the feed he was required to leave. His total production for the season was 21 percent up compared to last season.

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Photo: Susan Murray/RNZ

Hawkes Bay has had little more than 30 millimtres of rain - another 20 to 30 would be great. Some people are saying it's too little too late, but farmers aren't  expecting miracles but some growth should result.  Ewe Scanning is underway, one farmer's results are 10 percent down but he's happy enough given it's been so dry. Cattle are cheap and beef prices are good, but there's so little feed about,  farmers frustratingly can't buy them in...one said he feels like a kid in a lolly shop without any pocket money.

Wairarapa is in much  better shape than Hawkes Bay even though there's not as much feed about as farmers would like.  There was a good turnout to a fielday about the shedding Wiltshire sheep this week - including Wiltshire enthusiasts, commercial farmers and breeders of other types of sheep - just keeping an eye on what others are doing. An ag consultant says farmers are stuck at a cross roads, do they keep producing wool at a cost the market don't want to pay for and wait for it to come right,  do they move to farming finer wool that fetches more, or do they start farming sheep where the wool falls off.

Manawatu's peachy autumn continues - soil temperatures are between 8 and 10 degrees and farms are seeing growth they don't usually see at this time of the year.  There still quite a bit of maize for grain to come off - it didn't get the sun and heat units it needed in summer and now growers want two or three hard frosts.

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Photo: Judy Mellsop

Nelson has been fine and sunny with some frosts. Kiwifruit and apple orchardists are well into winter pruning and it's a challenging job this year. The effects of the Boxing Day hail storm are still being felt .. the hail damaged kiwifruit canes and tree branches, which are what support next spring's flowers.   Pruners are having to take care to select the best wood and canes possible, there will be an impact on flower numbers next spring. This means there is plenty of work on Nelson orchards if anyone is wanting a job.  

The weekend rain didn't reach Marlborough in any great volumes so for Ward and Seddon drought-hit farmers, they still need a couple more rain events to say the drought is really over.   One farmer said luckily the forecast 150 millimetres didn't arrive as the rock hard ground wouldn't have coped.  Instead they did get a wonderful soaking 56 millimetres .. so that does make the mood more bouyant and farmers are incredibly grateful. It's the most rain they've had in one episode in the past two years.  

Meanwhile conditions in Canterbury I think we know pretty well... it's just a terrible terrible time ..  and we heard've some on the ground comment with our guest ...  there is a massive clean up job, and a shortage of feed is going to be a very big winter concern. Fencing supplies and contractors are going to be in hot demand. We haven't heard as much about deer farmers and a handful of them lost their boundary fences so deer ended up scattered. One managed to get 120 hinds home easily enough becasue they have a homing instinct, but another one will have to round his deer up by helicopter as his neighbours are all sheep farmers with low fences... he needs to make some stock proof paddocks first.

Flood affected areas around Ashburton.

Photo: Pool / Stuff / Chris Skelton

On the West Coast  the week's been nice, well,  until Friday. Dairy herds have been moved to winter grazing blocks and things are well into winter mode.

And hopefully Central Otago will continue with a run of good days for the last ever Brass Monkey Rally at Oturehua.  It's when crazy motorcyclists.. two thousand seven hundred of them at least .. come from all over New Zealand to spend a freezing couple of days camping on a local farm.  There's a huge bonfire, three bands and lots on bon hommie. The small town's population has been busy getting food ready all week.  There is a prize for the biggest dunger of a bike and the one for the shortest distance travelled .. that has to be the farm owner surely

There was a bit of rain in Southland last weekend and conditions got a little sloppy, but entirely manageable.  Since then it's been sunny. There are still lots of trucks on the road shifting cows around.