Storm hits some crop farmers hard

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Some North Otago crop farmers say this harvesting season is the hardest they have encountered in 20 years.

Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president Richard Strowger said some farmers could have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crops due to the recent wet weather.

“Some farmers could lose up to $400,000, maybe even more, just depending on how many hectares are affected and if it’s harvestable or not,” he said.

Arable farmers who managed to finish harvesting before the the first batch of wet weather struck at Easter were in a more fortunate position, although it is expected they will have an average year.

They have been lending machinery out to other crop farmers who still have some harvesting to do so they can help minimise the financial damage.

Mitchell and Webster co-owner Peter Mitchell, whose company has 1200ha in crop, said they still had some harvesting to do.

“We finished 80 per cent of it, but still have 20 per cent of our harvesting to do, like our canary bird seed,” he said.

“Neighbours and other farmers have offered to loan us machinery to help us get our harvest done quicker.”

Mr Mitchell said if harvesting wasn’t finished soon, then crops could begin to sprout and if too much of this happened, then the crop would be worthless.

“If it sprouts, then people are in trouble, as too much will mean the crop is useless. But the slight upside is it needs to be warm and wet for the sprouts to grow and with it coming into winter, this is less likely to occur.”

Mr Mitchell said April being so wet and only having four to five days during the month to harvest was tough, especially when most harvesters were finishing in April before it got too wet.

“It’s going to cost extra because of the rain, the wet ground conditions and not enough drying for the crops,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmers in Mid Canterbury have lost millions of dollars due to ruined crops and are also dealing with damage to machinery due to the wet conditions.

Mitchell and Webster co-owner Nick Webster said the damage to machinery was not as bad in North Otago.

“None of our machinery is too bad. We just need to take extra care when starting it due to the rain.”

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY