Warm weather boosted pasture growth and lifted milk production to record levels in April and May, helping farmers claw back some of the ground lost in a difficult spring and summer.
Data from the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand shows the country’s milk processors collected 88,812,000 kilograms of milk solids in May, up 5.7 per cent from May last year and setting a new record for the month.
That followed a record collection of 148,177,000 kg/MS in April, and meant production for the full season to the end of May was down 0.6 per cent from the previous year.
The 2017/18 season would be remembered by many dairy farmers for the trying conditions during spring and early summer, AgriHQ chief analyst Susan Kilsby said.
“Milk production was hampered during the spring by extremely wet conditions which restricted pasture growth. This was followed by an early summer drought.
“However, extremely favourable conditions for pasture production prevailed in the later part of the season. This resulted in additional milk in the vat during the later months of the season.”
Federated Farmers dairy vice-chairman Wayne Langford was surprised production for 2017/18 had finished almost on a par with the previous season.
“With warm temperatures and good grass growth later on, some people were able to milk on longer, even right to the end of the season,” he said.
“But there weren’t a lot of guys who had an easy season so it is a surprise the totals were so close.”
The late surge in pasture growth had set many farmers up well for winter, Langford said.
“With things like Mycoplasma bovis to worry about, that’s one less stress.”
The total milk collection for the 2017/18 season of 1.839 billion kg/MS is 2.7 per cent behind the 2014/15 season when New Zealand’s milk intake peaked at 1.890b kg/MS.
By: ESTHER TAUNTON