Heavy rain but still drought

By Patrick O'Sullivan, Sam Hurley

Farmers told to budget, p4Farmers in parts of Hawke's Bay remain within the grip of drought while heavy downpours have brought flooding to other parts of the country.

Hawke's Bay farmer and Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said some areas of the region still needed 100mm plus of rain to break the drought.

"It's just been very patchy over the past few weeks, no consistent rain at all," he said. "Some areas have received a decent amount and as a result have had some good grass growth, but those particularly in Central Hawke's Bay have been worse off," he said.

Just 4mm of rainfall had been recorded at the Waipukurau farm of beef and sheep farmer Will Foley since 40mm fell about three weeks ago.

"I almost feel worse now than before the rain, because we had some long ranky grass for cattle feed but that rain rotted it away, so we have run out of cattle feed," Mr Foley said. "A bit of green pick that has come away but we would prefer to not touch it, because it affects the regrowth potential that we need for winter.

"If we get some rain we'll get a bit of growth but at the moment the feed cover is pretty low. It's going to be a hard, tight winter. We will have to feed out to cattle, otherwise we will have to sell them.

"They keep saying rain is coming but it never does. Or they might say in five day's time but 24 hours before you get to that point the forecast changes to sunshine.

"We heard of heavy rain in Napier and Hastings and flooding about a month ago but we got nothing out of that. The whole season has been variable - who's got rain and who hasn't."

But there was still a chance before growth stalls.

"The soil temperatures are relatively high for this time of year so if we can get some rain we would get three or four weeks of rain which would definitely help through the winter."

Northern Hawke's Bay has had more consistent rain than in the south but some famers inland of Wairoa are still experiencing drought conditions said Gisborne-Wairoa provincial president Peter Jex-Blake.

"Wairoa has been pretty good, there are still areas that need rain but by and large it's not too bad," he said.

Havelock North farmer Bruno Chambers said the dribs and drabs of rain he had received had certainly helped, saying he was feeling a lot better than a month ago, but many areas need still required a good dousing.

"The north and west-facing hills are still looking really ugly. The grass is growing but with the stock on hand they are keeping the grass down at this stage." Mr Chambers also said that as we got closer to the winter months new problems could arise.

"Each day that passes is one day closer to frosts which can defiantly set the cart back a little."

The ten day forecast issued by MetService last night said Napier and Hastings could expect some rain today and few showers on Friday, but at least a week long dry spell was expected with the possibility of rain arriving next Wednesday. Central Hawke's Bay could expect some showers this Friday and Saturday, but dry northwesterlies are expected next week bringing little rain. To the north, little rain is expected during the next 10 days, with warmer temperatures and little wind.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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