Rain good but more needed in Hawkes Bay

By Lawrence Gullery of Hawke's Bay Today -

Rain and thunderstorms have benefited fruit, vegetable, arable and feed crops but this week's rain is probably not been enough to lift pasture growth around rural Hawke's Bay.

Hawkes Bay Regional Council's "state of our environment" report for January released this week showed rainfall was below normal for the fifth consecutive month. The region recorded 62 per cent of its normal rainfall in December and 51 per cent in January.

Comments supplied for the report from the Ministry of Primary Industries said the lack of rain meant lower pasture growth and the result was that feed for stock was very short in most of the region.

"No spring feed was carried into the summer. Many farmers have been forced to sell more lambs at store or at lighter weights to protect the live-weight of capital stock," the report said.

"Cattle sales are also occurring earlier than normal as feed supplies dwindle."

Areas which were typically dry in summer were now reported to be "very dry" with a few farmers under significant pressure.

"Unless there is decent rain by mid-March these dry conditions will be come a significant event for the pastoral sector," the report said. At the other end of the spectrum, the fruit and vegetable crops were faring well from dry, warm conditions with low disease pressure.

"Most growers have access to adequate irrigation, although high irrigation demand will mean an increase in production costs," the ministry said.

"If conditions are favourable into harvest, an excellent grape vintage is promised."

Federated Farmers president and Te Pohue farmer Bruce Wills said this week's sudden rain had put some confidence back into the industry, especially for sheep farmers in Hawke's Bay.

"They've now believe that yes, it can rain again and it's while it's a great boost it's not nearly enough.

"We probably need about three of four more days of this kind of weather."

Mr Wills, who hosted the Ministry for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, on Tuesday, said most parts of the region recorded about 20mls to 40mls of rain since Monday.

"We had the minister out at Central Hawkes Bay to show him how dry it is there. I thanked him firstly for coming and then for bringing the rain," Mr Wills said.

"The rain has been pretty patchy but it's been enough to kick start a bit of growth where pasture has remained green but for other places it's just settled the dust and we'll need more to recharge our pasture land."

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