13 Feb 2009

Rain gives boost to pastoral farmers

2:06 pm on 13 February 2009

Pastoral farmers have welcomed the widespread rain this week, the largest amount of rainfall most have had this summer.

The rain has reduced moisture deficit levels through much of the country, but has also disrupted grain harvesting in Canterbury and increased the facial eczema danger for livestock in the North Island.

Jeanette Maxwell, who farms in the mid-Canterbury foothills, says the rain is a great relief and should boost grass growth.

A mid-Canterbury grain and seed growers' representative, Michael Morrow, says the disruption to grain harvesting should be short-lived. He does not expect any reduction in crop quality.

However Michael Morrow says dry conditions through much of the growing season will make it a less than average one for many growers and some without irrigation will suffer substantial losses.

In the North Island, Waikato Federated Farmers president Stew Wadey says the area has had much less rain than forecast and not nearly as much as they need.

However the accompanying high humidity level over the past few recent days caused fast growth in the number of facial eczema spores and clinical eczema is already showing up in cattle.

Mr Wadey says Waikato dairy farmers are struggling to keep up production given the continuing moisture deficit, which he says is a concern since the predicted milk payout is falling.