'Thank you rain, please come again', say farmers

JILL GALLOWAY
Last updated 12:00 06/02/2013

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Rain this week has been welcomed by farmers, but they say more would be welcome.

Rangiwahia farmer in northern Manawatu Shelley Dew-Hopkins said her farm had 65 millimetres during the early part of the week, enough to get pastures growing again.

The soil moisture deficit in most places was running at 100mm as people saw cracks in their lawns and paddocks, and crops were dry.

At Kiwitea, in northern Manawatu, retired farmer Mike Hoggard said there had been about 30mm, which had been extremely helpful and stopped paddocks burning off.

"We haven't broken the drought, but this rain has been an excellent start. This is temporary relief, but we need more within a week to really turn things around."

Mr Hoggard said it had been warm rain over 24 hours, which had soaked into dry paddocks, rather than running off them.

Dairy farmer at Hiwinui, near Palmerston North, James Stewart said he had about 40mm.

"It lifts farmers' spirits after a very hot and dry few weeks."

Mr Stewart said more rain was still needed on un-irrigated farms as soil moisture levels were very low.

"Dairy cow production had been good but it started to take a hit over the last week as pasture burnt off and cows had also been getting a bit of heat stress."

He said supplementary feeding would be starting to make up a bigger percentage of the cows' diet on many farms until grass cover built up.

MetService meteorologist Brooke Lockhart said the disturbed flow which brought widespread rain was moving off New Zealand, and it was expected to be fine for the rest of the week.

She said rainfall in Palmerston North was about 29mm, and Horowhenua had a dousing with 58mm.

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- Manawatu Standard

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