North Otago farmers can cash in their crops with the 2019 Winter Crop Competition.
Run by the Waianakarua and Waiareka Valley Lions Clubs as a major annual fundraiser, the contest will split its proceeds between four charities – the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter Trust, St John Building Fund, Oamaru Hospice Hub, and Oamaru Hospital.
The competition was first run in 2015, when the Waianakarua Lions were seeking an alternative to the Moeraki fishing competition that had become logistically difficult.
They joined forces with the Waiareka Valley Lions to create what has already become a highlight of the local farming calendar.
Thousands of dollars have been given to worthy causes, in keeping with the Lions’ philosophy of service to their community.
Last year there were more than 80 farmers involved, entering 123 crops. Sponsorship and a prizegiving dinner and auction at the end of the competition resulted in the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust receiving $37,000 and the Observatory Village $11,000.
Lions spokesman Murray Linwood said there would be changes to the finale this year, thanks to the involvement of renowned Oamaru restaurateur Sally-Ann Donnelly.
The prizegiving would be held at the Loan and Merc, and a mystery auction would be added to the agenda.
The competition is open to farmers in the area from the Waitaki River to Palmerston, and inland as far as Kurow.
There are four crop options: fodder beet, kale, swedes, and winter rape.
Irrigated crops will be judged separately from dryland crops.
Judging will take place in early May.
Lions members will visit each crop, assess an average part of it, and weigh the material growing in a square metre.
That will determine the top 10 or 12, which would then be visited by a stock and station expert for the final analysis.
The response from potential sponsors approached by the Lions this year was “really good”, Mr Linwood said.
The Lions would email farmers in the near future to seek crop entries, he said.