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Spring cereal sowing underway

News Release: 29 August 2014

Spring cereal sowing underway

Canterbury’s grain growers, responsible for nearly two thirds of New Zealand’s total annual grain harvest, are looking to make up lost ground this spring after poor weather stymied autumn seeding for many.

“The Canterbury Plains are NZ’s cereal bowl and the key planting period is upon us. Farmers and contractors are already busy servicing and readying their tractors and seed drills for what they hope will be a productive spring,” says Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (GSTA).

Where the soil is dry enough the bulk of Canterbury wheat, barley, oats and maize crops, for both the feed and food processing industries will go into the ground over the coming weeks.

High quality wheat is destined for the value-added baking (bread and biscuits) and milling industries and all barley used by NZ's largest malting factory, for beer production, is grown in mainly Canterbury or in the Manawatu, Chin says.

Typically Canterbury accounts for 82% of the grain crops in the South Island, covering an area of 82,400 ha. Excessively wet conditions in April and May prevented many farmers from getting autumn sown crops in the ground, however.

With almost no carry over grains from last season growers will respond accordingly to the strong on going demand for feed crops to service the expanding dairy industry.

A recent Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey of growers indicates largely mixed planting intentions. Information provided by its farmer members predicts the total area to be planted to feed barley crops to increase while the area for milling wheat, oats and malting barley looks static.

“At this early stage, the total estimated NZ tonnages for the 2015 harvest of key arable crops looks likely to be up when compared to the 2014 harvest,” Chin says. However, the crop is yet to be planted, grown and harvested and nine months is a long time in agriculture!

Notes The New Zealand Grain & Seed Trade Association represents 75 companies comprising researchers, breeders, processors, distributors and traders of grain and seed.

Hectares of Grain Crops Harvested by Region

Gisborne/Hawkes Bay7%
Total North Island24%
Canterbury (82,400ha)64% (of NZ)82% (of SI)
Total South Island (99,800ha)76%
Total NZ (129,100 ha)100%

Source: Statistics NZ Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2013

Grain crops in Canty -82,400h/a = 824km2
Lake Taupo = 616km2
ie grain crop area of Canty is 1.3 times the size of Lake Taupo


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