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Springing into summer

By Beckie Wilson

[email protected]

The Wairarapa spring had farmers smiling as pastures thrived for back up feed, but that may be a thing of the past as the slow-starting summer rolls in.

The region is looking drier in terms of rainfall compared to this time last year, and it doesn’t look like there is room for improvement.

wta110117supdrought01“But we are just at the start of the drier time of the year, so anything could happen,” said National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research climate scientist Nava Fedaeff.

“The Wairarapa soil is looking much drier than normal too for the time of year and lots of rain is not expected,” she said.

Up until March there are equal chances of rainfall being either below normal or near normal for the region, she said.

“The best advice for farmers is that they should keep up-to-date with the latest information because it is something [rainfall] that isn’t looking great at the moment.

A two-year lapse of what Wairarapa's landscape looked like from outside Donna Laing's Wainuioru home (top), photo taken on January 9, 2015, (bottom) taken two years later on January 9, this year.
A two-year lapse of what Wairarapa’s landscape looked like from outside Donna Laing’s Wainuioru home (top), photo taken on January 9, 2015, (bottom) taken two years later on January 9, this year.

From November to April is tropical cyclone season for the Pacific, and New Zealand has a near normal risk which is at least one cyclone coming within 500km of the country.

“If we get one, even a system anywhere near New Zealand, that could produce a month’s amount of rain in a couple of days.”

“There’s always these kinds of situations that come out of left field that you can’t expect in a long-term outlook.”

Wairarapa farmers should be ready to farm for a “normal summer” with the warmer temperatures being more persistent, said Federated Farmers Wairarapa President Jamie Falloon.

The summer has been off to a slow start, but temperatures are likely to be average or above average in Wairarapa.

The combination of a late summer and the cooler period can slow stock growth but feed levels should be fine at the moment, he said.

“We got the good rains in spring that filled up the dams, so water is pretty good, people just need to be ready for a normal summer that is the key,” he said.

“We aren’t in a bad position or anything, it certainly is drying out and that’s what you expect to happen in January across the whole country.”

We just really hope autumn kicks in in March or we get a “lucky tropical cyclone,” he said

“As long as we keep getting a bit of regular rain we will be okay, most people will have reasonable amount of feed around.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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