A Hawke’s Bay farming operation is certainly not short on feathers in its cap – and the potential to become an authority in the future of the organic maize industry.
A family farm with a rich history in maize cropping is showing no sign of slowing down its supply of maize for grain and silage to local farmers.
He cites adaptability, diversification, loyal staff, self reliance, nutrient preservation and, as most successful businessmen have, a secret weapon that gives him a competitive edge. In Mark’s case it’s his partner Angela Thomasen along with long time friend Garry Fotheringham who have helped him expand from 40 ha of maize to a 450 ha operation in just 12 years.
His introduction to the world of crop growing began back in 1974 when he was a contractor with a combine harvester. Then, eight years later, the opportunity came along to buy his family farm near Marton which was a livestock finishing operation that also grew wheat, barley and maize. After a few years it became obvious to Paul that maize was a more consistent crop to grow year on year and the returns were better than wheat or malting barley. “I just really enjoyed the challenge of growing good maize and still do.”
David Wordsworth’s father and uncle started out growing maize and barley for their pig farm near Te Kopuru on the Pouto Peninsula just south of Dargaville. To store the feed for the pigs they purchased the disused grain drying and storage facility in Dargaville. David remembers growing grain was “all the rage” back in the 1970s. However, farm systems changed and grain area decreased over the next few decades.
More than 45 years ago Bay of Plenty farmers Guy and Isobel Nicol grew their first maize crop. Today the couple, along with their son Grant, plant more than 1,000 ha of maize for grain and silage from Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty through to Waihau Bay on the East Cape.
An interest in organic farming, combined with a desire to build a livestock business where he had control from paddock to plate, led Hawke's Bay farmer Ben Bostock to establish Bostock's organic free range chicken.
Maize grain has provided Rangitikei growers Brendon and Rachel Williams with the opportunity to generate reliable returns, without the workload associated with their previous crop, potatoes.
While the last few decades have seen the conversion of significant areas of arable land to dairying, Northern Hawke's bay farmers Paul and Susan Steele chose to go in the opposite direction when they sold their dairy farm to grow maize.
Ten years ago Alan Brown purchased a small block of land and planted his first maize crop. Today he is growing 117 ha for grain and silage on a mix of owned and leased land and is also running an agricultural contracting business.
Maize grain is a new addition to Waikato farmers Donald and Craig Stobie's cropping and beef and lamb finishing operation. The brothers, along with their families and parents Duncan and Lorraine, farm 440 ha of peat country near Gordonton.
Corn-fed chicken is a wonderful success story for Turk's Poultry Ltd and the maize grain that feeds their birds represents a significant market opportunity for lower North Island growers.
Maize is helping Waikato farmers Scott and Nikola Mitchell improve the quality of pastures on their lease block as well as providing valuable autumn feed for their herd.
The purchase of 40 ha of arable land five years ago marked the beginning of a career change for Poverty Bay maize grain grower Bernard Cranswick, who previously operated a transport company for 25 years.
Marlborough farmers Andrew and Bill Jones have been growing maize grain for the past three years. This year's crops have been established using vertical strip till and they are very enthusiastic about the results.
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