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Country still in a 'precarious state' after rainfall

By Melissa Hills

Conditions remain tough for farmers in the Hauraki-Coromandel, Rangitikei and Waikato regions. Photo / Getty Images
Conditions remain tough for farmers in the Hauraki-Coromandel, Rangitikei and Waikato regions. Photo / Getty Images

The drought has broken for parts of the North Island, Federated Farmers says.

Wanganui-Manawatu and Bay of Plenty are out of drought while Hawkes Bay remains in a severe condition after Napier received just 16mm of rain this week, said Katie Milne, Federated Farmers' Adverse Events spokeswoman.

Conditions remain tough for farmers in the Hauraki-Coromandel, Rangitikei and Waikato regions.

Ms Milne, who is also the West Coast provincial president, said it was a "real mixed bag" but confidence was returning to farmers throughout the country after the recent rain.

She warned it could take farmers two seasons to recover, and although the rains had taken some of the pressure off, the country remains in a "precarious state".

The West Coast dairy farmer added she knew cases where drought had cost individual farmers between $100,000 and $500,000 and a total of $2 million to the economy.

"Farmers I speak to in the areas that have been dry remain concerned," she said.

"If it rains in central Auckland or Wellington, it does not mean it is raining in Taihape.

"That said, things are looking up in the Bay of Plenty but they remain tough in Hauraki-Coromandel.

"The west coast of the North Island, from south Auckland all the way north, remains pretty dry. I can add to that the North Island's East Coast, parts of the Waikato and the Central North Island." While Manawatu is out of the woods, Rangitikei remains firmly gripped by drought, she said.

"We seem to be getting through the worst of it on the South Island's West Coast but Southland and Otago could use a good soaking followed by sunshine."

Tauranga received the most rainfall in the North Island this week with 59mm, and Whangarei the second highest for the region with 54mm.

"Yet the cold reality for farmers like me know is that it's getting colder. As each day passes we lose vital sunshine hours and if winter does come early, we'll swing from one set of conditions not conducive to pasture growth to another.

"While this drought will break, it doesn't suddenly mean it's all over for farmers. Pasture is the engine room of any farm, and farmers are drilling in seed like no tomorrow.

"As any home gardener knows, grass growth tails off over winter and winter is close. Getting seed away before the weather flips will be a close run thing.

"With feed at a premium we could be facing a tough winter of constrained feed; a winter of discontent if you like, that will put us on the back foot for spring."

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the recent rains would be a big help to farmers.

"It's going to be a wet weekend for the majority of the North Island and it will continue to be wet until Wednesday when it will dry up. There'll still be showery weather towards the end of the week, and will end up with fine spells," Mr Corbett said.

REGIONAL STATUS

Breakdown of how drought is still affecting regions according to Felicity Wolfe, communications advisor for Federated Farmers.

• Northland -moderate
• Auckland - moderate, west driest
• Waikato - moderate but still dry
• Bay of Plenty - out of drought
• Hawke's Bay - severe but traditionally dry
• Taranaki - moderate
• Wanganui-Manawatu - out of drought
• Wellington - ok
• South island - generally doing ok but Otago and Southland getting drier and this is worrying farmers in the region.

RAINFALL FOR THIS WEEK

• Auckland 22mm
• Northland 54mm
• Waikato 23mm
• Bay of Plenty 59mm
• Gisborne 7mm
• Hawkes Bay 16mm
• Wanganui-Manawatu 15mm
• Taranaki 36mm
• Canterbury 12mm
• Southland 10mm
• West Coast 8mm

- APNZ

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