Rain hoped for after dry summer

North Canterbury farmers and contractors are looking for rain as winter approaches.

The ground is drying out after a favourable summer, leaving many farmers chasing supplementary feed.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury sharemilkers spokesman Theo Sneek said stock were in good condition for now.

"There’s not really a feed shortage yet, but it’s very dry and we need a good rain before May, when we start getting the frosts and things stop growing.

"I think most farmers have feed on hand, but we need the rain for the winter crops."

The dry conditions meant there were "no guts" to pastures and several farmers were already feeding out supplements, said North Canterbury contractor Steve Murray, of BA Murray Ltd.

"I wouldn’t say there’s a shortage of feed around just yet, but it’s getting very dry.

"If you look back to December and January, we’ve had a successful season and we’ve made plenty of product, but we haven’t had that decent follow-up rain since January.

"In Canterbury, you’re only ever three weeks away from a drought."

Feed in the barn was like "money in the bank", as you could never have too much of it, Mr Murray said.

Fletcher Farms owner Nigel Fletcher said a lack of decent autumn rain meant farmers were starting to feed out in the Hawarden-Waikari area.

"It has definitely got dry. I wouldn’t say there’s a feed shortage, but silage is just starting to be sought-after now.

"It’s been a pretty good season around here so far, but other areas like Banks Peninsula and Marlborough have been very dry."

Warm autumn weather meant there was some opportunity for some late-season growth, but with no decent rain forecast until May, Mr Fletcher said it could be a long winter.

"A bit of rain now would get things established for winter, with some green feed in front of stock. But without it, it’s getting dry and a weekend of nor’westers doesn’t help things, either."

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