Press Release – Federated Farmers
Hard as it may seem to believe, the widespread rain which has brought flooding to Auckland has managed to evade the farming areas most desperate for rain.
“It is safe to say the drought has broken in most parts, excepting unfortunately, those farms which have been affected by drought for the longest time,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.
“Farmers are gutted to see biblical quantities of rain falling while they are lucky to scrape up more than a few millimetres.
“It is fair to say our areas of concern have now shrunk. What remains a concern is for those farms still in drought because it looks like being ‘first in, last out’.
“While much of Rotorua is out of the woods, reports from around Reporoa are that it remains dry.
“While parts of Gisborne city got a good drenching, farms in the driest areas of the Gisborne region were lucky to get 6mm.
“Peter Jex-Blake, our Gisborne-Wairoa provincial president, told us the area of Gisborne-Wairoa still in drought is a pocket of hill country about 30km west of Gisborne. About twenty-percent of the region.
“Over the past month his farm received around 100mm of rain but the last two weeks have been dry and hot. Much of that rain has been lost and pasture growth has slowed right down.
“Peter said he was hoping that a front forecast for later this afternoon will deliver good rain. Fingers crossed it will.
“Farmers in central Hawke’s Bay are now really under the hammer. The exceptions are farms right under the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges.
“Unbelievably, a mere 4mm has been recorded at the Waipukarau farm of our Hawkes’ Bay Meat & Fibre chairperson, Will Foley. Will told us that it was the first rain in a fortnight and there is now wide-spread concern about winter feed.
“While hills may appear to ‘green up,’ the lack of rain means there is no root structure making it impossible to put animals onto it. The saving grace there, as in Gisborne/Wairoa, are high soil temperatures.
“With soils still around 15 degrees centigrade, farms only need good rain to get pasture response before winter. Rain would help set them up for spring but with all affected farms, winter feed is going to be tough.
“In Manawatu-Rangitikei, I know Fraser Gordon, our Meat & Fibre chairperson there, has been communicating that message to local farmers.
“I understand Fraser’s farm near Taihape, has received only about 9mm over the past three weeks. It is a similar picture for farms on the Napier – Taihape Road too.
“Federated Farmers can only hope that NIWA is on the button with its benign seasonal outlook for early winter. This drought came incredibly late and that to us has been the most unusual thing about it, Mrs Milne concluded.