18 Apr 2024

Dry weather good for fruit and vege growers, but farmers hanging out for rain

4:30 pm on 18 April 2024
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A worker harvesting apples (file image). Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

A lack of rain on the North Island's East Coast may be good for the area's fruit and vegetable growers - but the dry is starting to bite for pastoral farmers.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's (NIWA) latest hotspot report showed Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, as well as Coromandel Peninsula, had the driest soils in the North Island in the past week, when compared to normal for this time of year.

Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers' Association president Brydon Nisbet said the warm, sunny weather recently was great for crews out harvesting this season's feijoas and apples crops.

Nisbet said the heavy rain that lashed parts of the country last week went right over them, bringing less than five millimetres of rainfall for most across the region.

"No, we missed it. We missed it completely, and the next week or so just looks nice and warm," he said.

"We got 27 degrees [Celsius] last week, 24s and 25s on other days, so it's pretty good weather.'

But he said a drop would be nice.

"Even the growers would have been quite happy to have a day's rain, just to settle the dust.

"For our friends, the farmers, it affects them more when it's dry, they haven't got access to irrigation, whereas our growers of crops and fruit can always irrigate."

Nisbet said orchardists may want to irrigate the soil around their trees if dry conditions continue into May.

Meanwhile, Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway said farmers were indeed hanging out for some rain.

"The feed covers are dropping away quite quickly, and lambs are needing to be shipped off, you know, anything that's not being kept as capital stocks needs to be sort of looked at pretty closely now," Galloway said.

"The weight gain on ewes going into tupping and mating has has been a bit light, so it's a bit of a struggle at the moment out there."

He said good feed was imperative for cattle farmers in the next few weeks and months, heading into winter.

"Dairy farmers will be looking at that. They're right on top of the feed budget, so they'll be looking at drying off soon or dropping their numbers as soon as they can to make sure the cows are in good condition for next year.

"That becomes the focus, you know, next year is the key from now on."

Meanwhile, NIWA said North Canterbury was the driest region over the past week.