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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

Review of the Southland Market, 1877

Review of the Southland Market, 1877.

The season of 1877, so far, has been of a much more encouraging character to farmers generally than that of the preceding year. Owing to our harvest being later than that of our northern neighbours, the crops escaped the effects of the disastrous storm which swept over the Colony in January last; consequently, our produce having been successfully harvested, has met with a ready market both for local consumption and export. In the commencement of the season, great un-certainty existed amongst speculators as to the prospect of the markets in Australia, consequently operations were limited, and prices anything but satisfactory. Wheat opened at 4s. 6d., and sales confined entirely to local speculation; however, in a very short time advices from Adelaide of the low yield there, combined with the reported damage done to crops in North Otago and Canterbury, prices rapidly advanced to 5s. 3d., when without any assigned cause the market became suddenly dull and local. Millers declined to operate beyond 4s. 11d. for prime samples, the consequence was holders commenced exporting to Sydney, which had the desired effect, as the fall was immediately recovered, and parcels coming forward were eagerly taken up by the millers. Up to 5s. 6d. and 5s. 9d. may now be quoted as the market price with a very small supply.

The Oat yield in this district has been very satisfactory, both as regards quantity and quality, the grain being well filled, and in most cases a good bright colour; prices opened at 2s. to 2s. Id. per bushel f.o.b., and have slowly but steadily improved, and at the present time 2s. 5d. to 2s. 6d. may be quoted for good samples of feed f.o.b. More local transactions have taken place in this cereal during this season than has been the case for some years past; a considerable export business has also been done. Southland oats have met with ready sale in Melbourne at from 3s. 6d. to 3s. 9d. in bond; several shipments have also been made to northern ports with equally satisfactory results.

Barley is not grown in Southland in any quantity, as great difficulty is experienced in getting a good coloured grain; and, with a few exceptions, only feed qualities are produced, which sell at about 2s. 6d., fair malting being worth about 3s. 9d. to 4s.

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Wool.—The mild winter of 1876, combined with a plentiful supply of spring feed, had its materially beneficial effect on this staple, and in nearly all cases the clips were remarkable for their bright healthy condition, and absence of any symptoms of break. During the season the following ships loaded at the Bluff, viz.,—the Border Chief, James Nichol Fleming, and Waitara, their combined cargoes numbering about 15,000 bales; in addition to which a considerable quantity was shipped to London via Dunedin. Several local wool sales were held during the season with most satisfactory results, the prices realised being as follows:—
Greasy Crossbreds 8½d. to 11d.
Greasy Merino 8d. to 105/8d.
Pieces 5d. to 71/8d.
Locks 1d. to 4½d.

At the above quotations a considerable quantity of wool changed hands, and in the face of the present unsettled state of the Home market, local sellers may congratulate themselves upon having adopted the course they did.

Fat Stock.—The production of which is one of the leading features of Southland, and every year increasing in importance. The magnificent Edendale Estate, the property of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, furnishes a regular fortnightly supply to the Dunedin market of both sheep and cattle; and, in addition to this, fully 800 head of fat cattle will find their way into the same market from our settlers between the months of May and September, besides supplying our local market in Invercargill, the consumption of which is about 50 head of fat cattle, and 1000 sheep weekly.

Store Stock.—During the last ten months there has been an excellent demand for store cattle, particularly for well-grown bullocks for fattening purposes, and since the 1st of October, over 3,000 head of various kinds must have gone through our local agents' hands. One firm alone have in their various reports accounted for nearly 2,000 head, the principal purchases having been made for the Taieri and Oamaru markets.

Store Sheep have been in very great demand, and any lots of young ewes or wethers have met with ready sale at full rates. The supply of young Crossbreds or Merinos has been quite inadequate to the demand, and a large number of buyers have had to be satisfied with full-mouthed sheep. Prices during the season have ranged as follows:—Crossbred ewes, 7s. 6d. to 8s.; 8-tooths, for turnip feeding, 8s. 6d. to 9s.; young Merino ewes and wethers, 6s. 6d. to 7s., but 8s. is now offered without finding sellers; full-mouthed Merino wethers are now worth 4s. to 4s. 6d.; ewes, 5s.

During the past year a number of agricultural properties have changed hands in this district, and notwithstanding the gloomy predictions of many of a serious financial crisis and other calamities, the sales have shown a steady increase in values for good agricultural land; and it is satisfactory to feel that we can confidently point to the progress of agriculturists and graziers since the commencement of the present year, to prove that these evil forebodings were wrong, and that those who had the good sense to know that with productive soil, railway communication, and a good port, they were bound to succeed, were undoubtedly right so long as they went heartily into their work. A great number of fanners have found their way down to Southland from the north of Otago, as they are rapidly becoming aware that the land in Southland is of first-class quality, and has the advantage of over 130 miles of railway, opening it up in various directions, and connecting with a good harbour the nearest port of call with Melbourne; and in addition to this they can buy land at about half the price asked for property of inferior quality in the more thickly populated districts.