Farmer Focus: A good harvest in the field awaits…

Happy new year to you all from New Zealand.

It would be nice to hope the new year turns a page on the chaos of the past three, but with a war, Covid-19 in China and an inflation-induced recession looming, maybe I’ll just hope for some good harvest weather instead.

See also: Peas widen rotation and lower input costs for Norfolk grower

About the author

David Clark
Farmer Focus writer
David Clark runs a 463ha fully irrigated mixed farm with his wife Jayne at Valetta, on the Canterbury Plains of New Zealand’s south island. He grows 400ha of cereals, pulses, forage and vegetable seed crops, runs 1,000 Romney breeding ewes and finishes 8,000 lambs annually.
Read more articles by David Clark

We have done next to no irrigating here since mid-November, which is very unusual and normally not a good sign.

However, the crops look remarkably well considering the high rainfall and less solar radiation than we would like.

Fusarium has appeared in one variety of wheat that was looking spotless a week ago – so good, in fact, that it won the field inspection day for our local A&P wheat growing competition.

All the crops need sun on their backs, but at this stage there looks to be a very good harvest sitting out there. However, as we all know, it is only a good harvest when it is safely in the store.

By dodging thunderstorms, we managed to get the forage kale planted before Christmas.

Harvest has now started with barley wholecrop that we windrow, bale and wrap on farm to sell into the dairy industry in late autumn.

More storms this week have delayed play, which is frustrating, as we want the crop to get a good start so we can direct-drill winter feed into the fields.

Forage ryegrass will be our first combinable crop, with the earliest varieties expected to be mature for cutting by 15 January.

We are watching the macro-economic conditions and geopolitical tensions across the world with a degree of nervousness.

High costs of production seem to be locked in, so none of us can stand any break in commodity pricing because our margins as producers will evaporate extremely quickly.

We have already seen a massive drop in lamb pricing, a softening of dairy pricing globally and a lack of buyer confidence in forage seeds.

For now, we need to make sure we turn the promise of a good harvest into full silos and good certification grading.

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