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Drought-hit Northland farmers miss Cyclone Ita’s rain

Drought-hit Northland farmers miss Cyclone Ita’s rain

While the South Island has received so much rain that it is now posing problems for crop harvest and pasture growth ahead of winter, the worst drought affected parts of Northland received very little.

“As we clean up on the coast like farmers in Golden Bay, Tasman and Kaikoura will be doing, it is clear the weather is making life hard for those trying to harvest crops in the South Island.,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

“Speaking of the clean up, chainsaw safety is paramount. Everyone needs to be aware of tree root ball spring back when working with downed trees and we’d encourage everyone to Google “A Guide to Safety with Chainsaws” for a very good safety guide.

“Professional loggers have told us that if a tree does not need to be cut it maybe able to be milled. You should seriously consider leaving it intact until it has been assessed.

“While we clean-up, we must spare a thought to those farmers in the North Island still desperate for decent rain.

“While you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a drought breaker, Kaipara’s Pouto Peninsula received just 23mm and much less than that fell to the west of Dargaville. This is incredible, given elsewhere in Northland, upwards of 125mm fell.

“At least Auckland and Waikato seem to be pulling out of soil moisture deficits with 60mm falling over four days in Waikato and 50-60mm falling on the Hauraki Plains.

“Encouragingly a good amount of rain fell in Manawatu-Rangitikei so it should help to keep the wolf from the door.

“While more rain is needed in the North Island’s localised drought adverse event areas and Kaipara is yet to see any decent amount, any rain needs to be backed up by sunshine.

“To get pasture away before winter will take upwards of six weeks and that overlaps with winter.

“In the South Island we need sunshine because things are too wet. It is not quite an embarrassment of riches because with farming you need the right balance of sun and rain since one without the other either dehydrates pasture or literally drowns it.

“We are yet to strike the balance so here’s hoping for a normal autumn to appear with sun for the South Island and rain where it’s most needed in Northland,” Mrs Milne concluded.


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