31 Jan 2011

First drought, now flood for some Northland farmers

7:19 am on 31 January 2011

Farmers in eastern areas of Northland who have been battling their second drought in a year are now having to cope with widespread flooding.

The worst affected areas are along Northland's east coast from Kaitaia in the north to Mangawhai in the south.

About 280mm of torrential rain from Cyclone Wilma fell in the eastern hill country over 12 to 14 hours from Friday afternoon.

It also caused flooding, slips and road closures in Bay of Plenty, Coromandel Peninsula and Northern Waikato.

Northland dairy farmer Evan Sneath, who's at the upper end of the area known as Hikurangi Swamp, north of Whangarei, still has flood waters covering 60 hectares of the 100 hectares he has in milk production.

He expects to lose a lot of his pasture and is worried about his maize crop too.

Mr Sneath says his 280 cows were already on once-a-day milking because of the drought and with the loss of pasture, he'll have rely even more on supplementary feeding to keep milk production going until he can get new grass established.