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Cereal yields down but growers remain positive

Cereal yields down but growers remain positive

Total hectares sown in wheat and barley this season is predicted to decrease by around 8%, but growers are positive about future prospects, Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

Results from the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) July 1 Cereal Survey are out and confirm average yields are down compared to last season. Milling and feed wheat yields were down 12%, malting barley down 9%, feed barley down 10%, milling oats down 17% and feed oats down 6%.

"This is no surprise and reflects variable growing conditions (hot, dry, wet, cold) throughout the key crop establishment periods in late spring and early summer," Karen says.

"Compounding that, autumn/winter sowing has been difficult in some areas, with some crops drowned out. Nearly 20 percent of farmers who responded to the survey said they were either re-sowing, or had not put in crops because of the wet conditions.

"Overall, autumn/winter sowing is down 15% on the levels that had been indicated in April." Farmers will be hoping for good spring conditions to complete planting.

However, while unsold stocks of feed wheat are slightly higher than this time last year (68,300 tonnes July 1, 2018 vs 63,600t July 1, 2017) unsold quantities of the five other crops - particularly feed barley - are less than in 2017.

"We should also point out that arable sector representatives have noted quite a bit of activity since the July 1 survey, especially with feed wheat finding a home. New Zealand grain use by the livestock industry is more positive due to the closer price parity with imported supplement feeds and moves away from the use of imported supplementary feeds (such as PKE), which also helps to tighten up on environmental and biosecurity risks.

"Responses to the July survey indicate a predicted reduction in feed barley and milling wheat but with many variations and options open to farmers, the next AIMI survey (October) will provide an indication of what has actually been planted," Karen says.

"We encourage farmers to get in contact with their sources to procure domestically produced and quality assured New Zealand grown grain now, so it can be put in the ground. If farmers wait and commit to grain later in the year, it may be committed elsewhere, so be proactive," Karen says.

The overall survey results show that growers are positive about the future for arable farming.

"This is certainly helped by pricing positivity and good options available in the milling industry, should farmers wish to take them.

"Federated Farmers encourages growers to have timely conversations around pricing to ensure they are a fair reflection of market value. There is often a considerable time lag between the prices quoted in rural media and what is actually happening in the market."

Link to the AIMI survey report - https://www.far.org.nz/resources/other_resources/aimi

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