Record dry hurts farmers

By Kiri Gillespie


The kiwifruit capital of the world can claim another title after suffering the driest November since weather records began.

Data collated by the Niwa National Climate Centre showed Te Puke achieved its driest November since 1973, with only 18mm of rainfall for the month.

The latest National Climate Summary also placed Tauranga as the driest and sunniest centre in New Zealand. Auckland was the warmest but cloudiest while Dunedin ranked the wettest and coolest.

Niwa climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said November had been especially dry in the Bay of Plenty, which was well below the average rainfall for this time of the year.

"It's the reversal of last summer. Last summer we had La Nina, which brought northerlies and wet weather and it was relatively warm. Now cool, dry and sunny is the recipe we've had for November," Ms Griffiths said.

"It's quite a good outlook depending on your point of view but if you are a farmer, maybe not."

The southerly winds had dried soil to very low moisture levels, making any light rainfall practically redundant, she said.

The winds were not expected to let up anytime soon.

Te Puke farmer Rick Powdrell said the past six weeks had been incredibly dry, with strong winds not helping.

"I need rain, and I need it now," he said.

The sheep and cattle farmer said his animals were okay for now but he had concerns about their grazing during the summer period.

Mr Powdrell had left-over supplements he made last year to fall back on but he hoped a decent dousing of rain would eliminate the need for his back-up plan.

"Even if we got a good 25mm-50mm now, it would set me up really well, followed up with more rain in two to three weeks afterward," he said.

Mr Powdrell's rain gauge measured just 24.5mm for November. The year earlier the 57mm fell and the November before that was 75.5mm.

"November seems to have become totally a drier sort of month. If you go back to October we had 108mm but that was early in the month before the 20th."

"It's going forward that's the worry."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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