Cereal and seed crops at risk

Wet weather is hampering harvesting in South Canterbury.

Federated Farmers South Canterbury grain and seed chairman Colin Hurst said dull conditions in the past four weeks had delayed many crops.

''It's been overcast or drizzling just about every day.''

Some of the higher-value vegetable seed crops being affected were radishes, carrots and beet.

The situation could turn around with a run of sunny days, Mr Hurst said.

However, the longer a crop was delayed, the more likely its quality would fall off. That was especially the case with cereals, which would sink lower into the soil and could start sprouting.

''Grain supply will be affected,'' Mr Hurst said.

Farmers also needed to sow new crops now, but the land was still occupied by the ones they had not been able to harvest.

''It's getting past the window for some autumn crops.''

Mr Hurst knew of one farmer who had ''pulled the pin'' on a specialist autumn crop and would wait until spring, but ''most grains are still OK''.

Grazing would be affected by the replanting of seed crops in some cases.

A positive outcome of the situation was farmers helping each other, Mr Hurst said.

''One guy had four combines in to help.''

Once farmers had finished getting their own crops in, they had been seeing if they could lend a hand to neighbours. He hoped that would continue.

On his Makikihi property, he was about to harvest red beet seed.

''It's not real sunny, but we'll give it a crack.''

Foundation for Arable Research North Otago and South Canterbury representative Peter Mitchell said anyone who had not yet harvested crops in the area was affected by wet weather. And plenty of people were in that situation, the slow growing season meaning crops had been late to ripen.

Not only seed crops had been affected, but also crops grown for silage.

In the past month, there had been only a handful of days without rain. Furthermore, the fine days were not consecutive, so the ground did not have the time to dry out.

''The challenge will be getting crops off without damaging paddocks and putting mud on roads.''

The subsequent delay to sowing ''could be a bigger concern'', Mr Mitchell said.

''Normally, we would have quite a bit of autumn wheat in. We've got less than a tenth of it in.''

- by Sally Brooker