Farmers thirst for rain after dry month

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 12:26 03/01/2014

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The dry December weather means rainfall is needed in Marlborough this month to avert a summer drought, according to figures collected by Plant and Food scientist Rob Agnew.

Mr Agnew compiles statistics from data collected at the monitoring station at the Grovetown Business Park, just north of Blenheim.

While sunshine hours were only average for December, it was the second-warmest year in Blenheim on record, even though there were no days when temperatures reached 30 degrees Celsius.

However, Mr Agnew said rainfall was well down, and the 16.8 millimetres of rain during December was the lowest recorded for the month since 1994, when only 3.0mm was recorded.

"With the low rainfall during December 2013, central Marlborough has dried out considerably and further rainfall is needed to avert a summer drought developing.

"Rain falling on 1 January will be welcomed by pastoral farmers, but not by those on holiday."

Fortunately, Blenheim rainfall from August to November 2013 was close to the long-term average, Mr Agnew said.

The warm weather during spring associated with the good rainfall meant that growing conditions were ideal.

Almost all of last month's rainfall fell in the fourth week, with all but 0.4mm falling after Christmas Day.

Sunshine hours were only average, with Blenheim having overcast days during December with little sunshine when no rain was recorded.

A total of 2448.5 sunshine hours were recorded during the year, slightly less than the longterm average.

Mr Agnew said it would take several days for the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) to release the sunshine statistics for 2013, but Blenheim was already well beaten by several other towns.

"Whakatane will undoubtedly take out the title for 2013, as it had an unassailable lead at the end of November."

MARLBOROUGH 2013

Coldest: May 29 was the coldest day of the year, with an air frost of -1.7 degrees Celsius and a ground frost of -6.8C.

Hottest: January 7 and 20 were the hottest days of the year with 29.8C. The second-warmest year on record, with a mean temperature of 13.86C.

Sunshine: Sunshine hours were well down, despite the warmth. Whakatane is expected to take the sunniest town title for the year.

Rainfall: April, May and June had well above average rainfall, with June recording the highest total of 114.6mm. 

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- The Marlborough Express

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