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New Zealand: Rain hurts South Canterbury potato production

A very wet November has mushed up to 10 percent of the potato crop of a South Canterbury farmer. Potato grower Jeff Bleeker, a supplier to Makikihi Fries, said​ significant surface water had caused seeds to rot. "I'd say I might of lost 10 percent of my crop. You're talking about a lot of money, in terms of earnings and what it actually costs to put them in."

Bleeker said it hadn't been since the mid-1990's since he had lost such an amount of crop. However, he was confident of a better December: "It's just a percentage of some of the crops [lost].”

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) seems to back up Bleeker's hopes of improving weather, saying South Canterbury can expect drier conditions in the coming summer months. Niwa's monthly climate summary report for November said many eastern and inland parts of New Zealand received "exceptionally high" rainfall during the month, which contributed to damaging flood events. Niwa says South Canterbury can expect near normal rainfall in December, January and February.

"It was an unsettled month of weather overall," the report says. “Soils were significantly wetter than normal for the time of year across eastern and inland South Island."


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