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Fingers crossed . . . Arable farming spokesman Peter Mitchell hopes for a dry autumn in North Otago. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES

A dry April would make arable farmers happy, Peter Mitchell says.

The North Otago and South Canterbury representative on the Foundation for Arable Research told the Oamaru Mail this week that soil conditions were damper than ideal for planting autumn crops.

“We wouldn’t want it to be any wetter.”

Farmers were sowing grass seed, wheat, rape and autumn barley.

Mr Mitchell appreciated the “nice warm wind” on Tuesday morning, but wanted “no rain for April”.

The harvest had been “not too bad”, he said.

“It started off reasonably well. It got a check from the heat in October and November, so the yields were back a wee bit.”

Towards the end, conditions in the paddocks were getting too wet to allow easy access by harvesting equipment.

Prices were firmer than last year’s, which helped to compensate for the lower yields, Mr Mitchell said.

Global commodity prices had shifted, heading back to “a more sustainable level, perhaps”.

“It’s always competitive; you’ve got to work hard.”

Arable farmers had been able make small savings from less need for irrigation during parts of the growing period, but overall it had been “quite dry”.

“It was a very unusual season. It was very wet winter, dry spring, and a wet summer,” he said.

“At the end, it was cloudy with not a lot of heat.”

Nature always threw in some challenges, Mr Mitchell said.

Morale among the cropping farmers seemed good – he had heard nothing to the contrary.

“We keep trucking away, doing what we’re doing. We’re hoping for good conditions so we can get things planted.”

This time last year was extremely wet, causing difficulties getting autumn crops sown and established, Mr Mitchell said.