Farmer Focus Arable: Harvest nearly complete in New Zealand for Bill Davey

Swan Vesta matches are still the best straw baler available. Stubble burning on these fine silt loams is extremely valuable to us, because once completed you are virtually left with last year’s seed-bed, reducing the need to overwork the soil’s delicate structure. Pre-harvest glyphosate also helps to ensure a complete burn.

Several of my British farming friends here are reluctant to burn, admitting they are frightened of the consequences should a fire get out of control. Perhaps I am wrong, but, for now and while still permissible, we’ll continue to burn.

Apart from a small area of late sown linseed we finished harvest last week, the last field of proprietary white clover yielded around 1t/ha field dressed – a pleasing finale to as good a harvest as I can remember in my farming career.

A period of settled weather allowed us to push on, breaking the bottleneck which we had been faced with a month ago. Our last wheats were harvested at 10.5% moisture, something I have never witnessed before.

Mid-Canterbury has had a particularly good harvest, made apparent by the build up on farms of seeds of all types awaiting delivery to the various seed houses for processing. We have no spare silo space but have managed to tip some seed on to concrete floors to help keep the combine wheels turning.

The 50 Friesian bull calves that son, Nick, took on last August have now reached a size that they are not quite so cute and easy to handle. We have looked at the cost of rearing them from four days old to date and quickly concluded that to make any money we really have to take them through to 18 months and finish them here. By that stage our electric fences will be so highly powered they will glow in the dark.

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