Worried farmers praying for rain

By Kristin Macfarlane

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Rotorua's dry conditions are worrying farmers, who say if they don't get rain soon they will be in big trouble.

Rotorua has been hot and dry, with only 32mm of rain throughout the month, compared with the average of 114mm for the month.

Rotorua weatherman Brian Holden said there had only been four days of rain and the remainder had been warm, with many temperatures reaching the high 20Cs.

The big dry has been affecting Rotorua farmers, who say rain is crucial for a successful year.

Meanwhile, a state of drought was officially declared in Northland yesterday.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Bryon Osborne, who farms at Rerewhakaaitu, said he had spoken to older people in the area who had told him the situation was worse than during the 1970 drought.

"I think we've gone from brown to grey now, it's major," Mr Osborne said.

He said he had not talked to a lot of farmers about their situations but those he had spoken to had told him they were starting to get into their winter stock already.

"If we don't get rain in the next 15 days we'll have to dry off," Mr Osborne said.

He said in a perfect world, within the next few weeks there would be an initial light burst of 10-15mm of rain, followed by two to three bursts of 20-25mm.

Fellow Rerewhakaaitu farmer Mac Pacey said if they did not get rain soon it could have serious impacts on farmers.

Mr Pacey said most farmers have had a good start to the season, so some were not worrying too much at this stage. However, if they did not get any rain soon, things could be different.

"It's pretty dry, most farmers are just dealing with it," Mr Pacey said.

"We're now hoping for some rain.

"It's a bit 'watch this space' really.

He said many farmers had started off with a good milking season, which had tied them through the dry summer. However, Mr Pacey expected farmers to start worrying if rain did not come in the next month.

"Up until a few weeks ago, everything had been going well," Mr Pacey said.

"If it goes for another three weeks, then everyone will start thinking it's getting serious."

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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