Farmers are cautious about the season ahead, despite the favourable spring weather.
As farmers contemplate the coming hay, baleage, silage and grain season, some are preparing for drought.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury arable vice-chairman Roscoe Taggart said while he had got his spring-sown crop into the ground early, his Oxford farm was starting to dry out.

''At the moment it's great with the warm weather, and things are starting to grow, but it's a bit of worry with rivers being low and we will be starting to irrigate in the next week or two.

''People around here always say 'if you're irrigating before Labour Weekend, you're getting too dry'.''


As the Taggart family farm runs sheep and beef cattle as well as cropping, irrigating early in the season creates an extra workload.

He said he was preparing for the worst - a drought - but he had his ''fingers crossed'' it would rain at regular intervals.

Mr Taggart said the seasons were becoming unpredictable as climate change impacted on farming in the region.

Last season was one of extremes: there was a wet early spring and then it was ''like someone turned the tap off'' in November and early December, before a wet January.

''A lot of people talk about a normal season, but I've been farming for five years and I haven't had a normal season yet.

''We have weather records for the farm and you used to be able to predict that in the first week in January you would get northwesters.

''There were patterns in the weather, but you just don't seem to get that any more.''

He said farmers should be mindful of health and safety over the coming season, as they could fall into silos, and he warned workers not to jump out of a moving vehicle.

''It's important to remember that every machine can kill you on a farm. You do hear some horror stories, so obviously it does happen.''

In the long summer days, farmers should eat and rest when they could and remember ''tomorrow is another day'', rather than working late into the night to get the hay into the shed.

Challenges with the weather could lead to stress and loss of concentration, where people ''start taking shortcuts''.

''When you're working with staff, it pays to work out some kind of roster so they don't get burned out,'' he said.

''Workers have families to think about and I know my family don't like it when I stay out on the farm all the time.''