A short moment of hope amid rain in June has turned to despair for some of Hawke's Bay's farmers after yet another month of below-average rainfall.
The midwinter dry was highlighted at a MetService weather station at Mahia, where just 4.8mm of rain was recorded in July, compared with an average of 148mm based on recordings over the past 30 years.
Rainfall for the year is just over half the January-July average of 817mm.
At Hawke's Bay Airport, north of Napier, the 59.8mm was about 60 per cent of the July average of 102mm, while the total for the year was about 50 per cent of the average for the seven-month period.
In Waipukurau the rainfall last month was just 68 per cent of the July average.
Less than 50km away, at the Takapau Plains recording station in Southern Hawke's Bay, it was about 25 per cent above the July average, taking figures for the year-to-date to just over the January-July average of 540mm.
Federated Farmers provincial president Will Foley said the season had become tough for farmers.
Rain near the end of June, he said, seemed to break the dry period but there had since been constant dry winds which had brought farmers back to square one.
Farmers hadn't seen much grass growth in response to the June rain.
"It's just a continuation of feeding out supplements to livestock at the moment which has been ongoing for quite a long time now."
Mr Foley said a lot of farmers were tired of feeding out and worried about the upcoming spring.
"If there's not enough moisture around, spring could be really compromised," Mr Foley said.
"We just need some sort of significant rain to replenish the soil moisture levels going into spring."
He said too much spring rain could jeopardise survival during lambing.
"We don't want that but at the same time we want rain to replenish the soil so, look, it's a catch-22."
Mr Foley said the current dry period was different to previous ones in that it was patchier.
Some areas underneath the Ruahine Range and north of Napier were having their best season ever.
A strip from Hastings to Porangahau had probably never been so dry so late in the season.
"It's not a widespread event like it has been in the past but where it is bad it is real bad."
Otane farmer Peter Tod said conditions were the driest he had seen them at this time of year in his almost 40 years of farming. "It's just got a really strange feel to it this season."
He and his neighbours were coping with the dry spell with finishing stock and capital stock.
"We run an intensive beef finishing system where they're fed daily, so we had all that feed in store, so all our cattle are ticking along as we'd expect."
Mr Tod said his farm had been lucky to escape facial eczema brought on by warm autumn conditions, which was affecting some stock in the region.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council climate scientist Dr Kathleen Kozyniak said the region had been experiencing a run of dry weather since February.
"It's kind of more having had an extended period of below normal rain rather than just these couple of winter months."
Dr Kozyniak said the dry spell hadn't affected all parts of the region and the ranges had reasonable rainfall in July.
From January to June, temperatures were above average. There had also been a few windy months bringing higher evaporation.
Dr Kozyniak said models were pointing to an average August where rainfall was concerned.
"Everyone's hoping that will be the case, and hoping that it pans out that way."