Farmer Focus: Frost toll worse than first thought for Bill Davey

With 2009 already upon us and the “big dry” continuing, the forthcoming harvest will be more of a salvage operation on our unirrigated ground.

The -3C frost I mentioned in my previous article was far more damaging than we could have envisaged.

Our kale seed crop was ruined and consequently silaged – not quite what we had planned. But given the amount of vining peas that were wiped out, Heinz Watties offered us a late pea contract for the same field, which we drilled recently, so all is not lost.

We estimate that we have also lost about 30% of our early-sown winter barley, and we will not really know the full extent of damage to the grass seed until it has been harvested.

Chopping the more severely hit cereals is an option, but because of the poor quality, it’s very much a buyers’ market. Dairy farmers need no encouragement to haggle a deal.

All in all 2008, particularly the latter half, is a year we want to forget, and it’s time to move on.

As we turn our attention to procuring store lambs I was shocked to read that nine lambs a minute have vanished from New Zealand farms over the past year. The numbers are down 15% to 27.3m. Fancy being given the painstaking job of working that one out.

Meat companies are already jostling for position, each offering different incentives, anxious to secure supplies. We are again committed and hope that the volume we intend finishing may attract a premium.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who responded to our advertisement in this publication during December for staff.

It’s not easy making a decision when you are spoiled for choice. The cvs received were of a very high standard.

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