Hot, dry conditions affecting farmers

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2013

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Farming

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An extended dry patch is hurting Hawke's Bay farmers, with no relief in sight.

High temperatures and strong winds have parched the region in recent weeks.

Rain levels were well below average, with the 18 millimetres received in Wairoa just 26 per cent of the average for December.

Napier and Hastings also recorded less than half the average rainfall for December. The dry spell looked to continue right through January, with Hastings recording just 12.2mm of rain so far this month.

WeatherWatch.co.nz. forecaster Philip Duncan said a "big dry is setting in" from Hawke's Bay through to Waikato, and now Auckland and parts of Northland.

Hawke's Bay was on the fringe of the "spring-like weather pattern" hitting the South Island which meant the region's temperatures were being driven up by gusty winds. However, the rain in the south was unlikely to make it to the region, Mr Duncan said.

Apart from a southerly change today, which could bring a smattering of showers, Hawke's Bay would be hot and dry till the end of January. Temperatures were expected to sit between 24 to 28 degrees C.

"It makes for happy holidaymakers but the farmers and growers are a little stressed," Mr Duncan said.

Hawke's Bay farmers spoken to said it was "patchy" around the region, with some better off than others.

Sarah von Dadelszen of Hatuma, Waipukurau, said their stock numbers were the lowest since the 2008 drought.

While it wasn't "dire", it was still concerning. She was grateful for the spot of rain that hit the region yesterday.

"Every drop at this time is gratefully received."

Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler said most farmers were equipped to manage in the dry conditions and were killing stock accordingly.

"It's an old-fashioned Hawke's Bay summer."

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- The Dominion Post

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