Heavy rain forecast prompts Hawke's Bay growers to bring white wine harvest in early

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The heavy rain forecast for the end of the week has pushed the harvest of white wines forward concerning local winegrowers.

According to MetService yesterday Wairoa clocked 66mm of rain, Napier 26mm and Hastings 38mm within 24 hours.

A severe weather watch was put in place from Tuesday night to yesterday afternoon for Northern Hawke's Bay but was lifted about 3pm.

This resulted in a Havelock North Intermediate School camp at Weta Point being abandoned on Tuesday night because of the combination of weather and a lack of water in the well.

Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association chairman Michael Henley said this persistent wet weather was concerning, especially in terms of harvesting the white wine.

He said the reds were okay because growers did not start harvesting those for a further month or so.

Mr Henley was hoping the rain would ease and some sun and wind would grace the vines but MetService meteorologist April Clark said this wouldn't be the case.

Unfortunately for winegrowers the low producing the moist northeasterly flow would sink down again tomorrow and move over the region on Saturday, bringing more wet weather.

"It will worsen as the low sinks down," Ms Clark said.

Mr Henley said that at Trinity Hill they wouldn't normally collect the white-wine grapes until next week but yesterday they had already got most of them in.

He had been watching the weather closely and once he saw the amount of rain expected to fall they acted quickly.

The rain causes the grapes to soak up water and eventually split, presenting a number of challenges to the growers.

The grapes that were once healthy then get a rise in disease pressure.

Another challenge for winegrowers was the amount of humidity accompanying the rainfall.

Yesterday there were cooler temperatures around which reduced the potential of disease pressure but as the temperatures rise heading in to the weekend the risk increases.

"The warmer the temperature the higher the chance of disease pressure. Strong winds with little humidity is what we need to get back to business," Mr Henley said.

Ms Clark said a high of just 19C was recorded yesterday for Napier and 18C for Hastings but heading into the weekend temperatures were expected to rise into the mid-twenties.

On Sunday and Monday things start to look up for the winegrowers because the rain is expected to ease, with only patchy showers forecast.

"It has not been ideal but it is an agricultural product, which means we are hostages to the weather. The period of rain happens every year so we have learned to act around it," Mr Henley said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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