Farmer Focus: Irrigators probably too late, says Bill Davey

A freak frost, -3C in mid-November, has damaged thousands of acres of flowering brassicas, with some crops a write off. Our Sovereign kale isn’t quite that bad, but it has certainly been affected and some developing seeds in the pod have frozen and then burst. It will be two weeks before we can assess the full extent of the damage.

Young maize plants also took a hiding. But as their growing point was below ground, they’ve made a remarkable recovery.

Our new irrigators have arrived, but I fear, that by the time they are built, it will be too late to be of much benefit to crops this season. Construction crews are working seven days a week in Canterbury to build and commission these machines, whose delivery was delayed.

Their progress was hindered after winds gusting to 140kmh blew over several laterals and pivots in mid-Canterbury, leaving them needing repair.

The third week of November is show week in Christchurch. It starts on a Tuesday with the New Zealand Trotting Cup, is followed by the three-day Royal Agricultural Show, and finishes on Saturday with the Flat racing cup sponsored by Christchurch Casino.

The Princess Royal attended, the sun shone throughout and temperatures topped 30C.

I backed the winner in the first race, but after that the wheel well and truly fell off. Feeling somewhat dejected I was reminded of that old saying: “You don’t see many poor turf accountants.”

As New Year approaches we turn our attention again to procuring store lambs.

With an estimated 10m fewer sheep and lambs to process this coming season, the meat companies are already jostling for position, each offering different incentives, anxious to secure a supply. We are committed and hope the volume we intend finishing may attract a premium.


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