Farmer Focus: No rain since mid-June in New Zealand

I can’t work out if winter is finished or yet to arrive. We have beautiful warm days with crop development and pasture growth racing away.

I have to keep reminding myself that we haven’t even started lambing yet. We have had virtually no rain since we returned from the UK in mid-June.

On the occasion that winter doesn’t seem to arrive on time, it normally doesn’t end well, either wet and cold in September or with a spring drought.

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Either way we are making the most of this and pushing on with our spring work. The last of the wheat was drilled in mid-July and spring barley is now all planted, just leaving two crops of peas, a seed line of hybrid oilseed rape, fodder beet and tatties.

Top price

A combination of a poor 2018 harvest in Canterbury, a strong dairy price and the devastating drought in Australia has given us good selling opportunities.

I have sold the majority of the last harvest of both wheat and barley in the last couple of weeks at $425/t (£220) “on farm”. It’s a good result financially that will help to fill in the pothole left by last year’s drought-affected yields.

With a benign winter and plentiful feed, our store lambs are growing well. Of the 10,300 we will finish this year, approximately 3,000 have already gone for export processing, with the remainder gone by the end of October when we close the grass seed crops.

Our lamb schedule has hit just over $8/kg (£4.20), which is a once in a decade pricing level for us.

The availability of spring crop options has been very good, giving us flexibility in our rotation.

All in all things are ticking along well here, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in the durability of the global economy and we are yet to have a winter, so I am cracking on to lock in the good pricing that is currently on offer.


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.