Weirder weather in La Nina

with Bill Webb
Bill Webb Feed Solutions

We’re well into the New Year now, so I hope everyone has had time to take a good break, reflect, and set goals for the future.

At the time of writing this in mid-January, the place is still looking reasonably green and it’s only just starting to show signs of drying off.

Last year we had 94.5mm of rain in December, and this year we only had 43mm.

The reason the pastures have stayed green is because we’ve had 27mm of rain from January 1 to January 12, compared to only 9mm in the same period last year. The little showers every now and again are keeping things ticking.

Expect the unexpected

We’ve had some abnormalities with the weather due to the La Nina phase that we’re in.

We’re in the peak of La Nina, so the upcoming weather will be more of what we have now, mixed with a few abnormalities.

It can be wetter than normal in La Nina. There will likely be an increase in isolated showers, where one property may get rain but one just down the road won’t.

I had a classic example of this over the weekend. Matata experienced 150mm of rainfall and was flooded, while we were cutting hay in the fine weather only 6km away.

Then there was the thunderstorms and heavy hail that a few central North Island towns experienced around Boxing Day, with farms in Galatea and Reporoa looking completely white following sunshine just days before.

So while we remain in La Nina, it pays to expect the unexpected.

We’re likely to ease back into a neutral phase in the next quarter, around April.

Crops and payout

We had a call in early December regarding leaf miner in the swede crops, which is really early for leaf miner.

So from now on people need to be really vigilant by spraying their swede, turnip and kale crops with insecticide to keep the damage to a minimum. It’s always good to do a weed spray at the same time if it is required.

Keep an eye out for white butterfly, too, because they can also cause a lot of damage.

The pay-out currently has a seven in front of it which is really good news.

So, farmers want to be looking at buying in Maize and silage to continue lactation while the cows are milking well.

Feeding out on the pastures in the summer and autumn while it’s nice and dry is the best way to reduce losses and extend the round and put condition on before winter and with a $7 pay out, why not spend a bit on supplements to enjoy the benefits a higher income can provide.

Cheaper feed

Now is the best time to order feed, because it goes straight from the paddock onto the truck and to the farmer. Getting feed from ‘behind the baler’ as we call it is ideal, as it eliminates the double cartage and storage, therefore reducing the cost.

Maize is looking good across the area, in both high ground and low ground areas, showing they got off to a good start.

We still have a bit of maize and silage left and we're taking orders for hay and straw for the coming period.

It’s a good position to be in compared to last year when the cost was high and there was limited amounts available.

So expect some big machinery on the road from mid-February to about early April with maize harvesting. We apologise for the nuisance, but it’s what we have to do to keep the backbone of our country moving.


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