7 Jul 2019

Mild winter brings relief for South Otago farmers

7:43 am on 7 July 2019

Farmers in South Otago are relieved by the mild start to winter, with fears a drought was imminent in the autumn.

The usually lush Clutha Southland region is facing increasingly dry conditions.

South Otago farmers still haven't seen much rain but are finding winter feed goes further. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

The dry start to the year had farmers fearing a cold snap may catch them out and leave them short of feed for their stock.

But Federated Farmers' Otago president, Simon Davies, who farms in Clutha district, said the ongoing warm winter has allowed grass to continue growing, and some farmers are yet to move on to winter crops.

"It's been in some ways a very, very kind winter to date. It's been mild and dry and certainly at some point we're going to need some moisture but I don't think too many farmers are unhappy in this part of the world the fact that it is a dry winter," Mr Davies said.

"One of the benefits of a dry winter is that you get much better feed utilisation."

He said while winter feed isn't as plentiful, it's going further.

During the autumn farmers in the district were struggling with a lengthy period of dry conditions.

March was the second hottest since records began and Balclutha had less than 30 percent of its usual rainfall for the month.