Waikato farmers need more rain

While the rain that had fallen was appreciated, some areas received more than others, Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said.

He got 40mm on his Te Aroha dairy farm while other farmers had 80-100mm fall in early January. He got just 9mm from the most recent spell of wet weather.

It wasn’t enough.

“There are still areas that if we got a few weeks of hot, dry sunny weather, it would put us back into that [drought] scenario.”

The federation, along with the Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, has deferred discussions on the dry conditions for two weeks.

“We are playing it by ear at the moment. I wouldn’t say we are out of the drought scenario yet.”

Hot December weather saw some farmers switch to once-a-day and 16-hour milking earlier than normal. It had also affected milk production and he understood that Fonterra’s milk volume collection for the region had dropped by 3 million litres.

“Everyone is down a bit, but that is understandable going from the wet to the dry [weather].”

Farmers would be looking to hold their current production levels for as long as possible and trying to minimise the post-peak milk decline.

His concern now was the risk of facial eczema due to the hot, moist conditions, which cause the spore that causes the disease to thrive.

“If we got 20-40mm every 10 days, that would be fantastic. That would keep everyone going nicely, but if there’s one thing you can’t bet on, it’s the weather.”

He was banking on the rain forecast for much of this week.


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