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When’s the big wet ending

Workers clearing debris from the fence line on Pete Smith’s Martinborough farm in July. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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It’s been a year that has practically never stopped raining for Wairarapa farmers.

Average rainfall levels have already been reached or surpassed for some parts of the region and that is now making life difficult for some farmers.

Most of those rural dwellers would agree that this has been the worst wet season for a long time.

The soggy ground is causing havoc for farmers and contractors who are gearing up for docking and planting of crops but cannot get in the paddocks to do so.

Eketahuna sheep and beef farmer Bruce MacKinsack says that he has recorded 1560mm of rain this year already – topping the annual average of about 1500mm.

There has been no break in the rain long enough for the ground to catch up, Mr MacKinsack said.

“I guess the main thing, obviously, is that it has been a wet winter, but it has been so wet the summer and autumn preceding.”

“It’s what has happened for nine months.”

Mr MacKinsack has been keeping rainfall records for over 30 years and while he hasn’t gone back through them he said this was an “exceptional year”.

PGG Wrightson’s sheep and beef representative Brian Diamond said while everyone appreciated rain, “everyone has had a gutsful to be quite honest”.

Mr Diamond has been managing a block of land in Taratahi for about 12 years, and “this would be the wettest I have ever seen it”.

“It just seems to go on and on.”

Soil temperatures are good for growing but the key ingredient missing is the sunshine, he said.

Farmers need to get out there to roll or spray paddocks but are unable to do so.

Calving and lambing have been hard enough with them being born onto wet paddocks, he said.

When daylight savings roll around, that is usually a sign of the “good stuff” to come – but it’s not looking positive, he said.

Tullochs regional operational manager Aaron Cook said the wet weather had affected their ability to do their jobs but also condensed their season down.

“So basically, every happens at once – three-and-a-half-months’ work gets jammed into two months,” Mr Cook said.

With the ground as wet as it is, the soils are just harder to work with.

“The biggest thing is the later the crops go in, that affects the yield — that’s the biggest issue.”

“It has definitely been the worst winter in a while.”

NIWA climate scientist Petra Pearce said Masterton has received 758mm of rain this year — its annual average is 944.7mm.

The town also recorded its fourth warmest September in 111 years, with a mean temperature of 11.9 degrees – 1.6 degrees above average, she added.

It also recorded its third highest mean minimum temperature, typically night time, for a September over the same period.

Those two records were “quite remarkable”, she said.

Since the start of winter until yesterday, 422.5mm of rain was recorded at a Greater Wellington Regional Council weather station at Longbush.

A station at the Waiohine Gorge recorded 946.3mm of rain over the same period.

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