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Lamb buyers cautious as dry weather builds up

PGG Wrightson’s Brian Diamond at the Masterton Spring Lamb Fair at the Masterton Saleyards. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON


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The best pen of prime lambs topped the market at $93 a head at the Masterton Spring Lamb Fair on Wednesday.

A total yarding of 7500 lambs drew in a healthy number of vendors to Masterton Saleyards.

The highest price fetched was $93 a head for lambs from Kawa Kawa Station at Cape Palliser.

Masterton Spring Lamb Fair at the Masterton Saleyards. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON

PGG Wrightson livestock area manager Steve Wilkinson said prices were to the vendors’ expectations.

He said over the past week to ten days prices had dropped.

This was mainly due to the number of lambs coming onto the market, he said.

This was combined with the recent weather starting to dry out and some farmers had not grown feed to finish the lambs.

“There’s not a lot of buyers active in the market, they are being a bit cautious,” Mr Wilkinson said.

Hawke’s Bay buyers often dominate the Wairarapa market at this time of year, but there were not many around due to the drier weather too, he said.

Glendonald Station in Bideford made a top price of $91 a head, and the Peaks from Tinui had a pen of “stand out lambs” that also made $91.

According to this week’s AgriHQ North Island lamb schedule, farmgate lamb prices hadn’t moved this week with lambs weighing 17.5kg fetching $128.63 a head, the same as the previous week and up $98.88 at the same time last year.

Lambs weighing 19kg were fetching $139.65 a head, the same as the week before and up $107.35 on the same time last year.

Soil moisture in deficit

Wairarapa soil moisture levels are running in “deficit” with the current unusually warm dry spell, according to NIWA forecaster Ben Noll.

Soil moisture levels in the region are lower than normal, and have lost a considerable amount of moisture in the past week.

Majority of soils in Wairarapa could do with 30 to 50 mm of rainfall to return to normal levels, he said.

When levels go beyond 50mm “that’s pretty significant”.

While this weather pattern is classified as ‘unusual dryness’ by NIWA, the drier weather would need to persist for several more weeks before it reached ‘meteorological drought’ levels, Mr Noll said.

Since the start of November, 6.8mm of rain have been recorded in Masterton, according to Metservice.

In terms of this year’s sunshine hours, Masterton is sitting at 29th in the country with 1657 hours of sunshine.

“We are seeing the influence of the really large ridge of high pressure bringing this dry and warm weather, and a combination of those two things really dry out soils,” Mr Noll said.

The longest days of the year are only a couple of weeks away, during which the ground can lose a considerable amount of moisture during the day.

It was looking unlikely for any relief in the next week, as the forecast weather will remain warm and dry, Mr Noll said.

However, it would take a very significant rain event to replenish soil levels, he said.

In October, Masterton recorded only 47mm, much less than its average of 97mm.

Castlepoint recorded 78mm, only just below its average of 82mm.


Masterton Spring Lamb Fair at the Masterton Saleyards. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON


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