22 Jun 2020

Drought-breaking Hawke's Bay rainfall no miracle cure for farmers

5:23 pm on 22 June 2020

Rain at the weekend in Hawke's Bay is being hailed as a drought breaker, but farmers say the pain's not yet over.

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File photo. Photo: 123rf

The region's Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway said he had 30-40 millimetres of rain on his farm in Raukawa near Hastings.

He told RNZ it was "brilliant" to get decent water but it was not a "miracle cure".

"From a ground point of view [it's] a drought breaker, but we're so far behind and the pastures are so open it's going to take a lot longer to catch up for grass and stock feed."

Hawke's Bay Regional Council air quality scientist Dr Kathleen Kozyniak said the rain was welcome.

"We've had a solid amount of rain over the past week. Up to 200mm in the western ranges and 25-40mm on the Ruataniwha and Heretaunga Plains so rainfall totals are looking a lot healthier," she said.

"We're now heading into above normal rainfall territory for our June totals, and the Kaweka and Ruahine ranges have hit that mark. The only area of the region that is still below normal is northern Hawke's Bay. Soil moisture has recovered well and in most places is above median levels and hit field capacity."

"River flows are back to normal and we'll know later on whether groundwater levels have come back to normal levels for the time of year. Winter recharge of our aquifers is important to set us up for spring and summer."

More rain was expected this week, Kozyniak said.

"We're getting a series of lows tracking across northern NZ which is keeping an easterly flow over Hawke's Bay and we can expect modest amounts of rain later this week."

Hawke's Bay Rural Advisory Group co-chairperson Lochie MacGillivray said in a press release the recent rainfall was good for farmers across the region.

"As the weather has been both consistent and mild it will generate higher than average pasture growth," he said.

"The consequence of this will be a boost in helping our farmers ability to navigate through this winter.

"While this rain has been marvellous, for many it has come too late in the season and the impacts of the drought will remain for some time. Many farms will be still facing a significant feed deficit even with this higher than normal pasture growth."

Need farming support?

  • Ring the Beef & Lamb feed budget support number on 0800 23 33 52.
  • Applications for the mayoral drought relief fund are still open via the online drought hub.

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