Many farmers in South Otago and the Taieri were affected by floods last July, and that was followed by a particularly long and dry summer.

The farming sector is now focusing on the coming seasons.

Dairy farm owner Mike Lord, of Outram, said the spring ''had not been too bad'' although pugging caused paddock damage, and that, along with the dry summer, meant he and his 50/50 sharemilkers faced a production drop for the season of about 10%.

''It got pretty dry just before Christmas and a few people were using silage early, in January,'' he said.


However, 10mm of rain just after Christmas helped slightly.

''We then got two big dollops - 80ml to 90ml in mid-January and February, and then another 60ml later.

''The first rain just soaked in, and if we knelt in the paddock we hardly got wet knees.

''The next rain was just beautiful, and the second one was equally crucial.''

He said in the past two months it had started to dry out again, but the grass growth had been ''incredible, so we are not complaining''.

''It has been pretty good, although I don't know if too many guys are ahead in production.

''I would say, in the grand scheme of things, I am pretty happy to be where I am now.''

South Otago DairyNZ consulting officer Mark Olsen-Vetland said he had heard of quite a variation in production levels as a result of the weather, with some farmers losing the equivalent of about a day's production, while others were down about 8% to 10% down for the season, depending on where they were,

''On some farms the floodwaters sat for longer and the land took a lot longer to dry out. while others were less affected.''

He said there had been variable damage to paddocks, which had some impact on harvesting, cultivation and sowing, and that is where farmers' management skills came into play as they would then have to determine which paddock to regrass, crop or leave until the following year.

''There didn't seem to be any animal health issues, although the floods were hard on cows and hard on people.

''Quite a few people went to once-a-day milking and that seemed to work quite well, taking the pressure off them.''

Crop production also seemed positive, although the dry summer meant some farmers were feeding silage or fodder beet earlier.

''From my conversations with farmers, most seem reasonably happy and have come through quite well, '' Mr Olsen-Vetland said.