Hawke's Bay temperatures are set to heat up over the next month but predictions of a dry El Nino season leading into summer are now easing.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council's monthly "state of our environment" report for September said rainfall was below normal levels, especially in the north which achieved just 39 per cent of normal rainfall based on a 30-year average.
The regional council's senior scientist climate and air, Kathleen Kozyniak, said westerly winds brought rain to the Ruahine and Kaweka ranges but only a sprinkling to the rest of the region.
"As a result river levels have shown a decline while groundwater and soil moisture are still looking fairly healthy," Dr Kozyniak said.
Although the temperatures were "a little crazy" for September, overall it marked the normal annual move into spring weather.
The highest daily temperature recorded for the month was 22.1C in Napier and Wairoa and the lowest was -3.7C at Ngamatea, on the Napier to Taihape Rd.
"September was about everything you expect out of spring, often windy and temperatures bouncing round like a yo-yo," she said.
"One day it's 20 degrees and blowing a north-west wind and the next you're ditching your shorts for a scarf because of a 14-degree southerly."
Gillian Mangin and Annette Carey from the Ministry for Primary Industries Hastings office also supplied information for the report and said the low rainfall, with drying westerly winds and regular frosts, had farmers waiting for spring growth during September.
"This finally kicked off in the last week of September with a lift in temperatures and light rain across the region," the report said.
Pasture growth would need to match feed demand during the rest of spring as Metservice and Niwa predicted above-average temperatures for October.
"Farmers will be hoping that Niwa's latest outlook forecasting only a borderline or weak El Nino in the run-up to Christmas will prove correct," they said.
Fruit growers would have welcomed the dry September conditions allowing soil surfaces to dry out. Bloom levels on pipfruit and summer fruit orchards looked "plentiful" with good crops on the way.
"Grape growers in colder parts of the district had to operate their frost protection systems a few times on early varieties," the report said.
The move away from colder winter temperatures could be contributed to no breaches recorded against the National Environmental Standards, marking air quality over Hawke's Bay.