Fears of flour and bread shortage after weeks of rain damages wheat crops

Weeks of rain have caused widespread damage to crops all over the country but it's particularly bad in Canterbury where 88 percent of our wheat is produced.

Now there are fears it could cause a flour and bread shortage.

Oat seed is normally golden light in colour - but this seed is weathered with spots of mould.

"It's a salvage job rather than a traditional harvest," Longfield farmer Hamish Marr says.

Everything is taking longer to dry out, and what looks OK on top is "wet slime" underneath.

"It's a bit like ringing out a dishcloth," Marr adds.

Instead of the hot, dry Canterbury summer conditions needed for harvest, farmers have been faced with overcast, wet and humid weather. This is causing rot - delaying the harvest and delaying the next crop.

"It would be like mowing your lawn on a wet day and you can imagine those lumps and bumps," Marr says.

Soggy seeds are now germinating, rendering them useless.

"We get a couple months a year to gather our year's work, it's what we love, and getting held up with weather like this is pretty trying times," United Wheat Growers chair Brian Leadley says.

It could have a flow-on effect to New Zealand's supply chain.

"A lot of these crops can be replaced by imported grain, but you just can't ring up and get things to be delivered tomorrow," says Colin Hurst, chairperson of the Federated Farmers arable industry group.

"It could cause shortages of bread in the supermarkets."

We normally produce one million tonnes of grain each year - this year things could be different.

"Very concerned but we haven't seen the full impact until we get our harvesters rolling and get into these crops," Hurst says.

"Just want a bit more of this sunshine so we can get on and get our work done," Leadley adds.

Unfortunately, the forecast is for more rain later this week.