Hawke's Bay Regional Council says with an intense El Nino on the way farmers in the region should be preparing for a drought.
The council's principal scientist for climate and air, Kathleen Kozyniak, said intense El Ninos in the early 1980s and late 1990s were associated with drought conditions.
Hawke's Bay had below average winter rainfall, river flows are a bit below normal and groundwater levels are significantly below normal, she said.
"The prospect is for drier than normal conditions. It's not always a foregone conclusion but its certainly worthwhile being aware and preparing for the possibility of a drought.
"It's really a case of tracking it as we go and I guess by the end of spring we'll know how we are going with regards to whether things are becoming quite dry or not."