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Rain brings brief reprieve

Wairarapa farmer and Federated Farmers Meat and Wool chairman William Beetham. PHOTO/FILE

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Wairarapa had three times the amount of rainfall over 24 hours on Tuesday than it had in the entire month of January, bringing much-needed relief for farmers.

However, it’s not meant to last.

MetService meteorologist Andy Best said 41.2mm of rain fell in Masterton from noon Monday to noon Tuesday.

Castlepoint recorded 44mm of rain, while the summit of Remutaka recorded 40mm.

Only 14.6mm of rain was recorded in Masterton for January alone.

Best said the one day of rain was significant as it would have been much needed for dry pasture across the region affected by the recent heatwave.

“It’s a significant amount of rain in the context of the dry spell [in Wairarapa] and especially as it hasn’t had a lot of rain lately,” he said.

“So, it has provided good rain for pasture and growth.”

Despite the heavens opening up on Monday and Tuesday, Best said the rain was set to ease throughout Wairarapa on Wednesday morning and become fine in the afternoon with sun forecasted for the rest of the week.

“It’s going to be a nice weekend,” he said.

Although the rain brought temporary relief for farmers, Federated Farmers Meat and Wool chairman and Wairarapa farmer William Beetham said they wouldn’t be jumping for joy until rain became more frequent.

“We’re obviously ecstatic to see the rain however it’s only a relief,” Beetham said.

“It’s not going to change the long-term outcome unless we get steady rain in the near future.

“We had a fantastic spring, so we’ve had enough water to recharge all of our water systems, our dams and stock water.

“So, even though it’s been quite dry, which here in Wairarapa we’re used to being traditionally dry, Wairarapa farmers are set up for coping with that because that’s the environment that we farm in.

“But really it’s about how well the weather goes for the rest of February and March.”

Beetham said a lot of supplementary feed had been made for stock over spring which held farmers in good stead for the time being, but admitted it was critical that rain started to fall moving into autumn for that to continue.

He said if the weather continued to remain dry, farmers would need to be vigilant about many things, including their food supply, the condition of their animals, and themselves.

“It is important for farmers to keep a strong watch on rainfalls and forecasts going into autumn and make early strong decisions should we not get that autumn rainfall,” he said.

“Certainly making sure they destock early and any of the final trading stock they might be able to sell off their properties.

“Update feed budgets so [farmers] know exactly their feed position.

“And understand the condition of their animals and buy in extra supplementary feed and high energy feed should they need to put more condition on animals for winter; and also look to save up pasture.”

As the country went into a three-day lockdown, Beetham said farmers should also be ready for some challenges as they did in previous lockdowns.

“We may well have some challenging months ahead of us,” Beetham said.

“[The last lockdowns] certainly caused problems right through the supply chain, and that was with anything from sale yards shutting down to meat processing plants not operating at full capacity through to supply channels internationally being slowed up.

“So, this is why it’s so important for farmers to ensure they’re well planned and understand their position and have great communications with who they’re selling their product too and their suppliers.

“I’d add that farmers also need to invest in themselves in terms of getting prepared: try and eat properly, get enough sleep and exercise and stay in touch with friends. It always helps talking to someone when times get tough.”

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