26 Jan 2009

Canterbury, Hawke's Bay remain dry

1:55 pm on 26 January 2009

Farmers in Waikato are breathing a sigh of relief that there has been rain in the region over the last month, however rainfall has been patchy in Hawke's Bay and the threat of drought remains in Canterbury.

Soil moisture deficits in parts of Waikato had crept over 100mm before Christmas. Since then, the region received around 72mm of rain over a ten-day period, putting an end to immediate fears of a drought.

In Hawkes Bay, which has been drier than normal because of a lack of spring rain last year, the rainfall has been patchy.

Parts of the region received around 35mm of rain, while others received double that.

A meeting to discuss the possibility of an approaching drought is due to be held in early February.

In Canterbury, farmers have faced a difficult cropping season because of hot, dry weather.

Federated Farmers grain and seed section chair Ian Morten, who farms in South Canterbury, said there have been other weather-related problem.

Frost and hail at the beginning of season and strong winds and more hail at cropping time have reduced yields.

Ian Morten estimates crop yields are down by about 50% per hectare and some grass seed crops are producing only a quarter of what they should be.