Farmers happy with spring rain

Tim Jones
Tim Jones
Central and North Otago farmers are welcoming unusually high rainfall in what some are calling the wettest spring since the 1980s.

For the past two years, farms in parts of Otago endured some of the driest summers in decades.

A National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research monthly report for October said sections of the region received more than double their normal rainfall.

Its Ranfurly station recorded 86mm compared with 34mm at the same time last year.

Maniototo farmer Peter Hore said recent rain allowed farms to replenish their feed reserve.

``We're very happy. We had about four inches [100mm] last month. I don't know exactly how much we had last year, but it's a lot better.''

It was warm enough not to affect the lambing season, he said.

Alistair Campbell, of Earnscleugh Station, near Alexandra, said he could not remember when the rainfall was this good at this time of year.

``It's as good a spring as I can remember since the 1980s. Especially coming after two of the worst years we've had, it's really great.''

There were fewer spring gales than usual, which meant the water was not getting dried up, he said.

``It's been raining for 14 of the last 18 days. We can't predict what will happen, though. We only rely on six weeks of growth.''

The trend is similar in North Otago, with an Oamaru MetService Station recording 67mm of rainfall in October compared with 28mm at the same time last year.

Richard Subtil, of Omarama Station, said it had excess feed which would give the farm ``some slack'' going into summer.

``It's been great.

``I don't want to jinx it, but we almost have too much feed.''

It was ``pretty dry'' this time last year, he said.

``I'm staring out at it now and it's looking pretty green. I'm just glad that it's good news for a change.''

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said orchardists would welcome rain in spring rather than during the summer.

``Rain now is good. It saves on irrigation.

``We work a bit differently to the farmers. While they want consistent rain, we want a dry summer.''

Cherries were the most susceptible to rain damage, but it affected other fruit in different ways, he said.

``And, at least in Cromwell, it's been less windy than usual, which also helps with irrigation.''

Otago Rural Fire Authority Principal Rural Fire Officer Phil Marsh said the wet spring helped lessen fire calls, but it was important not to get complacent.

The rain would cause vegetation growth, he said.

``Come February, when things get a bit drier, we might have a bit of extra fuel to deal with.''


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