22 Mar 2019

Regional Wrap

From On the Farm, 9:10 pm on 22 March 2019
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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

It hasn't been one the better weeks for Northland - there's been no rain and it's continuing to dry out. The wee bit of moisture a couple of weeks ago freshened up the Kikuyu. Cattle are grazing whatever they can.
 
Some spots around Pukekohe had isolated showers this week but most of the region missed out. It's mainly been cloudy fine and calm - ideal for getting on with the activity of growing veges.
 
Waikato has had patchy rain but not a lot of it.  Farmers are looking at how much supplementary feed they have on hand and what they'll need for winter. They're also making plans for keeping cows in decent condition for winter - they may need to dry off a portion of their herd or move to once a day milking. The chance of growing feed between now and the first of June is getting a bit slim.  
 
Bay of Plenty is looking a little greener than Waikato - there's been rain here and there.  The kiwifruit season is running ten days earlier than usual so the Early Start programme - where growers get a premium for early fruit,  is fairly full. Dry matter is high so the taste of the fruit is better this year than it has been for a couple of years. Cows that are being milked once a day are happy - they're not having to walk to the shed in the heat.
 
Rain came at a good time in King Country last week, and there's a green tinge to paddocks, but more's needed. Store prices for lambs have gone up now that it's rained .. and it helped boost weaner cattle prices in Te Kuiti at the end of last week too. The main issue is finding fresh tucker for ewes to eat before the ram goes out.

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Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Most cows are in good condition and there's feed ahead of them. Sheep farmers are having the usual autumn challenges, facial eczema spores are rising, and populations of barbers pole and every other worm are multiplying rapidly.
 
The Taihape region's had good rain recently, although Hunterville missed out. Where it did rain, pastures are recovering well and farmers are feeling more comfortable. .. but as in Wairarapa and elsewhere when the grass grows so do worms and preventative drench programmes are being sorely tested.

This is the "golden period" for sheep farmers.. management decisions now, impact on the next twelve months. 

The ten days prior to mating, and the first ten days of mating are the crux .. sheep must be well fed.. flushed. Our contact here says the rural community's mood at present is vibrant because lamb returns.
 
Horowhenua's feeling dry again. Heavy soils are green and are growing but would love more moisture. It'll be great to receive next week's predicted rain.
 
Across Cook Strait now and after rain a couple of weeks ago the grass on Tasman farms has taken off but there's not much base to it. The region's still very much in the recovery phase after the drought. 15% of the region's herds are now dry, and most other farmers have dried off at least 20% of their herd.  

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Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

 The feed situation on his farm is good but it mustn't be as plentiful elsewhere on the coast because he's been seeing a lot of feed on the back of trucks coming in from Canterbury.
 
In Canterbury, some rain and nice mild autumn weather is resulting in fantastic grass growth at the moment. Lambs and cattle continue to sell well, calf sales are starting and early reports indicate calves will be back a little on last year however the money is still very good compared to long term averages. The biggest disappointment is wool where it is now very common for the cost of shearing to exceed the wool cheque.
 
Central Otago's grape harvest is just starting with rosé coming off.  Grape crops are looking good but the season has been challenging with frosts and rain when they weren't wanted.  There's a bit of a gap in the apple harvest - the weathers been incredible and orchards are right up with the picking so on Friday pickers were having the day off.  

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Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Balclutha hasn't had rain for a long time - although north and south of the town have been more fortunate. It's been a good growing season though and winter crops are looking good.  It's a critical time of the year for sheep farmers they're making sure ewes are being fed well to ensure they're in tip-top condition when they go to the ram in a couple of week’s time.
 
It's been a fantastic week in Southland - overcast in the mornings and developing in to beautiful sunny afternoons with temperatures in the 20s and no wind.  Some places are looking for a shower.  Farmers are getting lambs away to the works and we're told prices are holding up satisfactorily. On dairy farms feed levels have picked up.  

There is a huge surplus of baleage in the region - that's great but the only concern is Southland tends to provide it when it's going to be needed - so farmers are wondering what winter will dish up.
 

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