Hastings has recorded 16 cases where it has exceeded national air quality standards this winter, surpassing it previous poor record of 13 in 2008.
Monitoring sites at Napier, Hastings and Awatoto combined recorded 22 breaches of the National Environment Standard (NES) to August 1. The standard measured particulate matter known as PM10. The NES was exceeded if the matter reached more than 50 micrograms per cubic metre, using a 24 hour average.
The figures were reported in the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's State of Our Environment report for July. It said the limit was exceeded nine times in Hastings and three in Napier for the month.
So far, the total for the 2013 winter was four for Napier, 15 for Hastings and one for Awatoto.
Regional council's senior scientist, climate and air, Dr Kathleen Kozyniak said there were a number of nights which provided perfect conditions for poor air quality in June.
She said it had been about five years since the air quality breaches had reached high numbers and it was "the flip side" of having calm, blue-sky days during the winter.
At night, the calm atmosphere provided conditions for smoke and emissions to hang over urban areas.
Dr Kozyniak said 2008 was "our worst year" with 28 exceedances in Hastings and five exceedances in Napier.
"June 2008 was the last time, and only other time, we had four exceedances in Napier in one month.
"All the results are very weather dependent, so I'll be comparing winters at the end of August to see if conditions have been particularly conducive to bad air days."
The council continued to advocate for cleaner home heating options, as most of the emissions contributing to the air quality breaches were generated from residential homes.
The Ministry of Primary Industries contribution to the report showed recovery from the drought "has been excellent".
The ministry's Hastings policy staff, Gillian Mangin and Annette Carey, reported the warm winter conditions had prompted above average pasture growth rates in most areas.
"Although it was wet for several days, the northwest winds and relatively high temperatures that followed soon improved the situation underfoot. As a result, utilisation of pasture and crops has been good."
Prices for store cattle increased recently as farmers restocked. Most ewes were in good condition although lambing percentages could be down slightly on many farms.
Fruit growers were pleased to see periods of dry frosty weather during June to help achieve winter chill, to make conditions easier for pruning.