Rainfall brings respite to scorched farms

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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Rain falling in the parched North Island this week has been welcomed by relieved farmers.

While the downpour was not as strong as those in Wellington or Auckland, many farms throughout the regions received more rain on Monday or Tuesday than they had seen in the whole of last month.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said the recent dry spell was causing problems for the farming industry and, though the rainfall was a reprieve from the dry conditions, more was needed.

"While we have been granted several weeks' breathing room in the Hawke's Bay, elsewhere it may only be a few days.

"Another front like the one we just had could almost get farmers through to early autumn," Mr Wills said.

It took time to soften parched soils, so gentle steady rain was far better than a sudden heavy downpour.

"The rains should help to recharge some farm dams and waterways, and this could take the pressure off irrigation bans in some parts of the country."

Decent amounts of rain fell in Taranaki, Manawatu, Whanganui and Wairarapa, with 25 millimetres to 70mm of rain recorded on farms throughout the regions.

Along with chilly temperatures of just 9 degrees Celsius, Hawke's Bay also had 30mm of rainfall.

Rotorua and Taupo's frustrated farmers recorded only a fraction of the downpour - 16mm in Rotorua and less further south.

In the Ruapehu area, provincial president Lyn Neeson said there had been "a lovely drenching" of rain. Many farmers were using their spare feed, stocked up in December when the weather was more forgiving.

"This rain should take the pressure off farmers trying to sell stock in a dropping market," Mr Neeson said.

About 50mm of rain was also recorded at farms in Northland, Auckland and Waikato.

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- The Dominion Post

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