The ground in parts of Northland is starting to crack from the scorching weather but intermittent showers are keeping drought at bay — for now at least.
According to the New Zealand Drought Index released by Niwa, western coastal areas of Northland and Waikato have the driest soil across the North Island compared to normal for this time of the year.
A red patch between a small area just south of Opononi that shows drier than normal soil moisture has been declared a hot spot.
A hotspot is declared if soils are "severely drier than normal" and the soil moisture deficit is the amount of water needed to bring the soil moisture content back to field capacity, which is the maximum amount of water the soil can hold.
Northland has had six droughts since 2009 and the last was in February 2020 when the Government came up with an $80,000 support package.
Provision was made for vulnerable groups like farmers and growers to access social welfare support, and increased flexibility with Inland Revenue Department.
Federated Farmers Northland vice president and beef farmer John Blackwell said although it has not rained for quite sometime, the ground was holding up and feed was okay at the moment.
"The ground is starting to crack a bit as we're hitting days when humidity is pretty high. But it's normal summer weather and the rain we've had in October and November has given farmers a lot of feed so we're in a good position."
Blackwell said since the rest of New Zealand was having good rainfall, meat and feed prices were likely to hold up well this summer.
However, he said things could change quickly between now and winter and he predicted a fire ban along the west coast could be a possibility.
Niwa said soil moisture levels were likely to decrease for most of the North Island due to the expected rainfall in the next week however, hotspots were likely to expand.
Okaihau dairy farmer Terence Brocx said with rain towards the end of 2021 and wind drying off pretty fast, farmers were in a strong position at this time of the year.
But recent high temperatures and humidity meant grass growth was down by 30 per cent and he expected the trend to continue for the next couple of weeks.
The wettest soils for this time of year are in South Taranaki and southern Manawatū-Whanganui.
Light drizzle fell across much of Northland yesterday but fine weather is forecast to return this weekend and into most of next week.
Temperatures will hover in the mid to late 20C.