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Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2009 (final)
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  13 May 2010

The 2009 Agricultural Production Survey covered horticulture, forestry, and livestock and arable farming. It included questions on farm practices, including fertiliser and cultivation. This release contains final results for key livestock, forestry, arable, and horticultural crops at a regional level. 

The 2009 survey was part of the current programme of agricultural production statistics. This programme began with a census in 2002, followed by annual sample surveys from 2003 to 2006. A census was held in 2007, followed by a sample survey in 2008. 

Figures in this release have been rounded. All percentages have been calculated using unrounded figures.


The New Zealand sheep flock was estimated at 32.4 million at 30 June 2009, down 1.7 million on the 2008 figure. Numbers in 2009 were less than half the peak of 70.3 million recorded in 1982, and saw the national flock reduced back to the 1948 level.

Although total sheep numbers have halved, improved lambing percentages and animal husbandry have resulted in the quantity of lamb and sheep meat exported only falling 12 percent over the same period. In the year ended 30 June 2009, 397,000 tonnes were exported compared to 452,000 tonnes in 1982. Lamb and sheep meat remain important exports, earning $3,015 million (f.o.b.) in 2009.

The North and South Islands each had similar numbers of sheep in 2009. Numbers in both islands fell between 2008 and 2009 – the North Island by 900,000 and the South Island by 800,000. Factors causing the decrease included drought, especially on the North Island's east coast, and competition from other land uses.

The Manawatu-Wanganui, Canterbury, and Otago regions accounted for half the national sheep flock in 2009. With 5.8 million sheep, Manawatu-Wanganui was the region with the largest sheep flock, surpassing Canterbury's 5.5 million.

During the year ended 30 June 2009, 28.0 million lambs were tailed, down 10 percent from the previous year. The drop in the number of lambs tailed reflects fewer ewes and ewe hoggets being mated in the 2007/2008 season. Factors contributing to this decrease included drought in several regions and competition from alternative land uses. The national lambing percentage in 2009 was 119, the same as in 2008.

In 2009, there were 24.0 million ewes and ewe hoggets mated, 4 percent fewer than in 2008 and 4.6 million below the number mated in 2007, when there were 28.6 million mated.

Graph, Agricultural Production Survey, June 2009, final release, Total sheep by islands


Despite the lower milksolids prices during the year to June 2009, the New Zealand dairy herd continued to expand. At 30 June 2009 the national herd numbered 5.9 million, up 282,000 from 2008.

Between 1989 and 2009, national dairy herd numbers increased from 3.3 million to 5.9 million. The North Island, with 3.8 million dairy cattle in 2009, had 806,000 more than in 1989. With 2.1 million dairy cattle in 2009, the South Island had almost seven times the number it did in 1989 (312,000).

Between 2008 and 2009, the increase in dairy cattle numbers continued to be driven by the South Island, where numbers increased 13 percent to 2.1 million. North Island dairy cattle numbers, at 3.8 million in 2009, were similar to those in 2008.

The Waikato region, with 1.8 million dairy cattle in 2009, was home to one-third of the national dairy herd. This was followed by Canterbury with 918,000, Taranaki with 607,000, and Southland with 589,000 dairy cattle. Between 2008 and 2009, Waikato numbers increased by 69,000 or 4 percent, while those in Southland increased by 93,000 or 19 percent, and those in Canterbury increased by 87,000, or 10 percent. The recent expansion of the dairy industry in Southland has had a dramatic effect on the balance of stock units in the region. In 2002 only 24 percent of stock units were dairy, the balance being sheep, beef cattle, and deer. In 2009 the dairy cattle percentage was 39 percent. Stock units are expressed in ewe equivalents.

The increase in dairy cattle numbers between 2008 and 2009 was due to more cows and heifers being retained for milk production. There were 4.6 million in the milking herd (cows and heifers in milk or calf) at June 2009. In 2008 the milking herd made up 78 percent of total dairy cattle numbers. This increased to 79 percent in 2009 as a result of an additional 259,000 milking cows and heifers. The number of replacement cattle at 1.2 million in 2009 was at a similar level to 2008. Replacement cattle are dairy cows and heifers not in milk or calf, and rising one-year-old dairy heifers and calves.

This increase in the milking herd occurred mainly in the South Island, where numbers increased by 231,000 to 1.6 million. Contributing factors included continued dairy conversions, a smaller number of dairy cows and heifers going to the beef herd, more older cows remaining in milking herds, and the sourcing of dairy heifers from the North Island. The milking herd in the North Island increased by 29,000 to 3.0 million.

Graph, APS09F final result, Dairy cattle


There were 4.1 million beef cattle at June 2009, a similar number to 2008. Beef numbers in 2009 were 2.2 million below the 6.3 million recorded in 1975.

In 2009, 71 percent of all beef cattle were in the North Island, which had 2.9 million. The remaining 1.2 million were in the South Island.

Northland, Waikato, Manawatu-Wanganui, Hawke's Bay, and Canterbury were the major beef farming regions.

In 2009, there were 1.1 million breeding cows and heifers in calf, similar to the number reported in the previous year. The numbers of steers and non-breeding bulls were also stable at 1.2 million and 0.7 million, respectively.

In the year ended 30 June 2009, there were 918,000 calves born to beef heifers and cows, 6.1 percent less than in 2008.

graph, total beef cattle numbers in the North and South Island


There were 1.1 million deer at 30 June 2009, 77,000 less than in 2008. Low venison prices have contributed to the decrease in deer numbers in recent years. In 2009 numbers were back to the level last recorded in the early 1990s. Despite this decrease, numbers are still well above the 109,000 recorded in 1981, when deer farming was in its infancy.

Up until 1994, there were more deer in the North Island than in the South Island. Since then deer farming has become increasingly concentrated in the South Island, which in 2009 had two-thirds of all deer. Canterbury, Southland, and Otago are the main deer farming regions.

Between 2008 and 2009, as the price of venison improved, more younger female deer were retained, the number aged one to two years increased 7 percent to 113,000. The number of other deer reduced slightly during the year.

During the year ended 2009, 432,000 fawns were born and alive at four months, down 13 percent on the 2008 number. This fall reflects 85,000 fewer female deer being mated in 2008, compared to 2007 when 680,000 were mated. 

Graph, Total deer numbers in the North and South Islands


During the year ended 31 March 2009, 19 million cubic metres of exotic forestry timber was harvested from 40,000 hectares of plantation. Three quarters of this harvesting took place in the North Island, mainly in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

The area of replantings fell 5 percent to 31,500 hectares in 2009. Seventy-one percent of the replanted area was in the North Island where 22,300 hectares were replanted.

In 2009 there were 2,400 hectares of new forestry plantings, similar to the 2,700 hectares planted in the previous year. In 2009, 1,300 hectares were in the North Island, 500 hectares more than in the previous year. There were 1,100 hectares of new plantings in the South Island, 800 hectares less than in 2008.

Wheat, barley, and maize grain 

Increased harvests of wheat, barley, and maize grain were recorded in the year ended 30 June 2009. Compared to the 2008 season, the area of wheat harvested increased 27 percent to 53,900 hectares, while barley increased 15 percent to 77,700 hectares, and maize grain 18 percent to 21,600 hectares. Favourable weather conditions during the growing season, high wheat and barley prices at sowing time, and increased demand for stock feed helped drive the increase.

Canterbury was the main growing region for both wheat and barley. In 2009, 46,900 hectares of wheat were harvested, accounting for 87 percent of the national total. With 45,000 hectares of barley harvested in 2009, Canterbury accounted for 58 percent of the total harvest.

Maize grain was grown almost exclusively in the North Island with 97 percent of the national total. Waikato, with 5,400 hectares, was the largest region, followed by Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.


Before 2009, horticultural production information was last collected in the 2007 Agricultural Production Census.

Wine grapes

At June 2009, there were 33,400 hectares planted in wine grapes, 13 percent more than in 2007. In the seven years between 2002 and 2009, the total area planted in wine grapes almost doubled, from the 17,300 hectares recorded in 2002.

By far the largest contributor to this increase has been the expansion of wine grape plantings in the Marlborough region. Between 2007 and 2009, a further 2,400 hectares were added to Marlborough plantings to give it a total area of 19,600 hectares in 2009. This continues the increase in plantings in this region, which in 2009 were more than two and a half times the 7,500 hectares planted in 2002. Hawke's Bay with 5,300 hectares in 2009 was the second largest region.

Graph, Agricultural Production Survey, June 2009, Final, Area planted in wine grapes, Marlborough,


The total planted canopy area of kiwifruit in 2009 was 13,300 hectares, up 200 hectares on the 2007 area. The increase was driven by plantings of gold kiwifruit, which increased to 2,500 hectares, up 200 hectares on the 2007 figure.

Kiwifruit plantings are concentrated in the Bay of Plenty, which in 2009 had 10,200 hectares, or 77 percent, of the national plantings. In 2009 this region had 8,100 hectares planted in green kiwifruit and 1,900 hectares in gold kiwifruit.

Between 2007 and 2009, kiwifruit exports increased from 328 million kg to 378 million kg. In the year ended 30 June 2009, kiwifruit exports were worth $1,074 million (f.o.b.).


In 2009 there were 600 hectares planted in cherries. This area was up 15 percent on 2007. The majority (97 percent) of cherries were grown in the South Island, with Otago the largest cherry production region. The area planted in Otago was estimated at 470 hectares in 2009, an increase of 10 percent on 2007.

Potatoes, buttercup squash, sweet corn, and onions

Compared to 2007,  in the year ended 30 June 2009, there was an increase in the area of potatoes harvested, and decreases in the areas of buttercup squash and sweet corn. The area of onions harvested remained at a similar level to 2007.

The area of potatoes harvested, at 11,400 hectares in 2009, was 13 percent above the 2007 harvested area. With 4,300 hectares, Canterbury was the main growing region in 2009. This was followed by Waikato with 2,100 hectares.

In 2009, 6,800 hectares of buttercup squash were harvested, down 12 percent from 2007. Nearly all buttercup squash was harvested in the North Island. The two main growing regions were Hawke's Bay with 4,200 hectares, and Gisborne with 1,600 hectares in 2009.

There were 5,100 hectares of sweet corn harvested in 2009, down 19 percent from 6,200 hectares harvested in 2007. The area harvested in Gisborne increased 9 percent to 2,000 hectares. In Hawke's Bay, the area harvested decreased 29 percent to 1,700 hectares. In Canterbury there were 400 hectares harvested in 2009, less than half the 900 hectares harvested in 2007. The sweet corn harvest was affected by farmers switching to other farming activities, unfavourable weather conditions in the Hawke's Bay during the growing season, and the closure of a processing plant in South Canterbury.

During the year ended 30 June 2009, 4,500 hectares of onions were harvested. Auckland and Waikato were the two main growing regions, accounting for 68 percent of the total harvested area. Between 2007 and 2009 the area harvested in Auckland increased 19 percent to 1,800 hectares, while the Waikato area decreased 14 percent to 1,300 hectares.

Changes between the provisional and final result for estimates at the national level
  Provisional Final % change
Ewe hoggets put to ram


1,821,217  2
Ewes (2-tooth and over) put to ram 22,159,971 22,169,206 0
Total sheep 32,356,674 32,383,589 0
Lambs born to ewe hoggets 652,049 671,682 3
Lambs born to ewes 27,313,376 27,309,916 0
Total lambs marked or tailed 27,965,425 27,981,598 0
Dairy cows and heifers in milk or calf 4,597,183 4,606,971 0
Total dairy cattle 5,823,201 5,860,776 1
Calves born alive to dairy heifers/cows 3,693,823 3,656,877 -1
Beef cows and heifers in calf  over 1–2 years 138,277 148,268 7
Beef cows and heifers in calf  2 years and over 943,538 947,746 0
Total beef cattle 4,093,616 4,100,718 0
Calves born alive to beef heifers/cows 911,331 918,451 1
Female deer mated 596,060 563,762 -5
Total deer 1,152,991 1,145,858 -1
Fawns born on the farm alive at four months 435,926 431,921 -1
New area planted in forestry (hectares) 2,339 2,356 1
Area replanted in forestry (hectares) 31,134 31,485 1
Exotic timber harvested (cubic metres) 18,903,238 18,887,204 0
Exotic timber harvested (hectares) 40,040 40,004 0
Total wheat harvested (tonnes) 408,367 403,463 -1
Total wheat harvested (hectares) 53,881 53,854 0
Barley (tonnes) 449,834 435,270 -3
Barley (hectares) 77,762 77,669 0
Maize grain (not sweet corn) (tonnes) 256,967 237,844 -7
Maize grain (not sweet corn) (hectares) 23,117 21,558 -7
Apples 9,278 9,284 0
Cherries 603 597 -1
Blackcurrants 1,271 1,268 0
Avocados 4,140 4,117 -1
Wine grapes 32,959 33,422 1
Onions 4,601 4,511 -2
Peas (includes fresh and process peas) 6,192 5,988 -3
Sweet corn 5,044 5,059 0
Potatoes 11,493 11,398 -1
Squash (buttercup) 6,961 6,825 -2


Next release ...

Agricultural Production Statistics (Provisional): June 2010 will be released in February 2011.

For technical information contact:
Andrew Chou
Auckland 09 920 9100

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