Higher harvest yields for July reflect 'pretty good growing season' - Federated Farmers

Weather conditions for autumn/winter sowing were "very good" in most parts of the country.
Weather conditions for autumn/winter sowing were "very good" in most parts of the country. Photo credit: Getty

Harvest yields for wheat, barley, and oats were up 17 percent in July, compared to the previous year, the latest figures show.

The strong yields came from a reduced number of hectares planted, reflecting a "pretty good growing season", according to Federated Farmers vice-chairperson of grains Brian Leadley.

The figures come from the July AIMI (Arable Industry Marketing Initiative) survey report and show that compared to 2019, the wheat yield was up an estimated 26 percent, feed barley 12 percent, milling wheat 11 percent, malting barley 1 percent, milling oats 5 percent and feed oats 6 percent.

Taking the 6 percent drop in hectares planted into account, the net result was a 10 percent increase in total tonnage compared to last season.

"For context, keep in mind when making the comparison that 2019's results were below average," Leadley said on Friday.

Survey respondents in most regions said weather conditions for autumn/winter sowing were "very good".

Over the two years from the 2019 harvest to the 2021 harvest, the harvest area for feed barley and feed wheat is predicted to decrease by 14 percent and 6 percent respectively, Leadley said. 

Conversely, the harvest area for milling wheat is predicted to increase by 26 percent and for malting barley by 14 percent.

"While the prediction for total planting area is stable, we’re seeing a bit of a shift by growers to milling wheat rather than feed wheat varieties," Leadley said.

"Wrapped up in that is extra recognition for the quality of New Zealand wheat for domestic consumption and the work that’s been done around raising the profile of our own New Zealand product is paying dividends.

"In tandem with that is the varieties we’re growing are yielding quite well - not quite getting up to feed variety yields but they’re getting quite close. So if growers swing to those, they’ve got choices in the market."

Leadley said it was "a little concerning" the survey showed a lessening of support around production feed grains. 

"While we’ve been pushing harder on those higher-end value types we certainly still want to support feed demand.

"With a significant part of New Zealand having suffered from a serious drought, quite a bit of feed grain was consumed through that, but fair to say probably not as much as the arable industry would have liked to have seen."