Media Releases

Extreme fire danger

Check it's alreight before you light!

Fire and Emergency New Zealand have issued a Fire Danger Outlook for the coming month, noting that any rain today and over the weekend will have minimal effect in reducing the extreme fire danger levels in many areas. Prohibited fire seasons (Total Fire Bans) are now in place in many areas, with Restricted in others. Remember to visit www.checkitsalright.nz before undertaking any crop residue burn and take extra care with any activity that could create a spark and cause an unintentional fire.

The www.checkitsalright.nz allows you to check fire restrictions in your district and to apply for a burning permit to burn crop residue. It only takes a few minutes to fill in the on-line form and you should receive your fire permit by email within a few days.

  • There is no charge for a fire permit.
  • Only one permit is required for the whole of the fire season

Before burning

  • Prepare your paddock correctly with cultivated fire breaks, water on site etc.
  • Check the weather forecast, wind direction etc
  • Go checkitsalright.nz to see whether a prohibited fire season has been declared.
  • You also need to comply with city/district and regional council burning restrictions, including requirements relating to smoke nuisance and controls under the Resource Management Act.
  • Have your permit with you, in either paper or electronic form, from the time you start preparing your fire to the time that it is put out.

Fire danger outlook South Island, Feb 2019

Fire danger outlook North Island, Feb 2019

Clover harvest headaches

Just how do you harvest a thick, leafy white clover seed crop?

Rain throughout spring and early summer has created a management headache for Canterbury white clover seed growers. FAR Herbage Seed Research Manager, Richard Chynoweth, says the rainfall has resulted in clover seed crops with extra leaf and dense vegetative bases.

“This is a problem for farmers, as crops which retain a green and damp base are at risk of suffering high yield losses; firstly through seeds sprouting before the crop is dry enough to harvest, and secondly, through harvest losses caused by damp seeds, sticking to vegetative matter and being lost out the back of the header when harvest does occur. The hot weather of the last few days is starting to help, and desiccants will dry out the clover canopy, but many growers are still concerned about how best to deal with leafy dense crop bases.

“There is no one size fits all solution, as different cultivars, soils, rainfall figures and growers’ management techniques to date, will all produce slightly different crops and different issues. With this in mind, FAR and SIRC are holding a field discussion at Rakaia next week (9.30 – 10.30am, Friday 8 February) to consider all these different scenarios and the harvest options that are available.”

Clover desiccation field day handout

​Fusarium head blight in wheat crops

Fusarium head blight is showing up in many wheat crops and should be taken into account during harvest.

There have been widespread recent reports of fusarium head blight (FHB) in wheat crops throughout Canterbury. Fusarium head blight of wheat, also known as head scab, is most easily recognised on immature heads where one or more spikelets in each head appear prematurely bleached. Sometimes large areas of heads may be affected, and where infection is severe, pink or orange spore masses can be seen on diseased spikelets. Fusarium damaged grains are pink or chalky white and shrivelled. This disease can cause significant yield losses where conditions favour the disease, and grain from affected crops may be less palatable to stock than healthy grain and may contain mycotoxins (a toxin produced by fungi).

It is important to know that not all species of Fusarium produce mycotoxins. F. crookwellense, F. culmorum and F. graminearum can produce mycotoxins but other species are not considered major producers. The incidence of different species of Fusarium fungi in New Zealand grain varies from year to year and by grain type, harvest date, region and the weather conditions in the season. A survey in 2000 found that the Fusarium species present in Canterbury were not major producers of mycotoxins. Samples from two wheat crops grown near Methven in December 2018 were identified as Monographella nivalis (snow mould), a species usually included with the Fusarium group of fungi that does not produce mycotoxins. However, since we do not know if all the recent reports of FHB are caused by non-mycotoxin producing species, it makes sense for growers to take precautions to minimize the risk of harvesting and storing Fusarium contaminated grain.

Wet weather promotes Fusarium development and during flowering (GS60-69) crops are particularly susceptible to head blight infection. The higher the rainfall through flowering the higher the risk. Rainfall through December was high in Canterbury ranging from 62 mm at Chertsey to 177 mm at Methven. At harvest, Fusarium mycotoxins may increase if wet weather causes delays. Also, mycotoxins may increase if the grain has a high moisture content in storage.

Suggested Actions:
  • Harvest fusarium affected wheat crops as soon as possible once ripe.
  • Consult the combine manual. Combine adjustments should follow the manufacturer’s manual when first going to the field. Once in the field, operators should invest the time to sample the grain and make adjustments.
    • The most important adjustments include concave clearance, screen openings and cylinder and fan speeds. This is particularly important when dealing with compromised grain quality.
    • If it is determined that grain quality is not an issue, more conventional settings should be used to minimize grain loss.
  • Fan speed
    • Many, but not all, Fusarium-infected kernels are shrunken and have lower densities. Increasing the combine’s fan speed can greatly increase the number of lighter kernels blown out the back of the combine.
  • Harvest and store grain with fusarium contaminated grain separately.
  • Good farm practices will minimise the risk of mycotoxins. Damp grain needs to be dried to minimise risk.

Further reading
AHDB, 2016, Guidelines to minimise the risk of fusarium mycotoxins in cereals.
FAR Cereal Update No. 123. Fusarium head blight control.
FAR Cereal Update No. 102. Grain quality – mycotoxins.
Michigan State University Extension, 2013, Wheat harvest: Minimizing the risk of Fusarium head scab losses.

​Brown Marmorated Stink Bug alert in Bay of Plenty

MPI Brown marmorated stink bug alert.

We have been made aware of the identification of a single brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) in the Bay of Plenty.

The single live male BMSB was found on a private property in Mount Maunganui on 15 December. It's not known where the stink bug came from and inquiries are continuing to try to determine a pathway. The investigation to date has found no evidence of an established BMSB population.

Biosecurity New Zealand is laying special traps designed specifically to lure brown marmorated stink bugs in an area in Mount Maunganui, following the detection. This is a precautionary step following this detection.

About BMSB

About this incursion

​Changes to the FAR Constitution

FAR is planning to update its Constitution.

FAR is an Incorporated Society which operates under a Constitution. Following our external review and in order to ensure that we comply with new legislation governing Incorporated Societies, we plan to make amendments to the Constitution at our AGM in December. We believe that the proposed changes will enhance the governance of FAR and provide growers with greater membership rights.

Key proposed changes

  • All levy paying growers will become official members of the Incorporated Society. Members will be able to nominate themselves or other members onto their respective Arable Research Group (ARG). Members will be able to attend the AGM and table items for discussion.
  • The seven ARGs will remain in place. Each ARG will be able to nominate three ARG reps to sit on the Members Council and one ARG rep to sit on the Research and Development Advisory Committee (RDAC). ARG chairs will no longer automatically go on to the FAR Board. Regional representation will occur at the RDAC and Members Council levels and the Board will be skills based.
  • The RDAC will be made up of a representative from each of the seven ARGs and up to seven other appointed members from industry etc. The RDAC provides input into research priorities and makes recommendations to the Board and Senior Management. ARG representation on the RDAC ensures growers' voices are heard on issues of research prioritisation.
  • The Members Council (21 elected members from the ARGs) selects Board members and members of the Board Nomination and Remuneration Committee (N&RC)
  • The N&RC is a subcommittee of the Members Council that deals with board nomination and remuneration.
  • The Governance Board will be skills based. It will include five to nine Directors, of which the majority must be levy paying directors. The chair of the board will be a levy payer.
    Read proposed new Constitution here