Will New Zealand storms halt recovery in milk production?

Published 19 April 17

After being hit by two severe storms, milk production in New Zealand (NZ) will undoubtedly be impacted, at least in the short term. Prior to the storms, better than average growing conditions had boosted milk production above expectations. This led to predictions by the Ministry of Primary Industries that milk production could rebound by around 3% in the 2017/18 season. 

In the past week however, the pasture growth index has dropped below the long term average as the soil moisture content is exceptionally high. With grazing restricted, and farmers having to deal with higher feeding costs, production is expected to drop in the short term. The overall impact should be limited however as April and May typically account for only 9%-10% of NZ’s full season production.

It is less clear on what the longer term impacts will be. If soil moisture levels remain high, there will be a longer lasting effect on both grazing and feed crops, which could then extend the problems into the peak production season. According to DairyNZ, next season's recovery is now dependant on how the remainder of the winter plays out.