Farmer Focus: Wet weather and only three weeks until harvest

The weather in New Zealand, particularly around Canterbury, can change at the flick of a switch.

December was very dry, with irrigation capacity under pressure. So much so that one field going into kale for winter feed was so dry the plough wouldn’t go in the ground. We had to irrigate it and then plough the following day.

Then the rain started, and I got stuck while having a foolish attempt to drill the crop. It has been cloudy and wet ever since, so given that harvest is three weeks away, we need to flick that switch again soon.

See also: How to reduce soil compaction and optimise crop yields

But on reflection over the New Year, it seems a switch has been flicked on the world as we know it, and it is hard to fathom what may be ahead of us.

Our hearts go out to you all in the UK as Covid is spreading with renewed speed and aggression.

While we have been largely isolated from the health impact of Covid, I fear we are only a matter of weeks before the new variant breaches our border, and we face renewed lockdown.

Our economy is proving to be remarkably resilient, given that tourism, incorrectly touted as our largest income earner, is now non-existent.

As a nation, at a government, business and household level, we are borrowing like there is no tomorrow.

A new ute [utility vehicle] has a three-month waiting list, boat and caravan dealers cannot prep them fast enough, everyone seems to be doing up the bathroom or kitchen and house prices in our cities have gone up 20-40% in many cases.

In reality, it is borrowed money and it’s only the income from the primary production sector that is keeping the lights on currently in NZ.

I sit here and watch events unfold offshore while also contemplating the year ahead as we set a plan for our family and business, and I am not sure what to think, or what is ahead. Are we living in a fortunate, isolated bubble or a fool’s paradise?

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