The rain started in April, we hardly came up for air and now it’s a drought. What is going on out there? Safe to say, it was not a bad year to call it quits on farming. Now for those of you out their amongst it, I hope this year comes to an end soon and things start to look up for 2018.
This year’s weather has been partly due to warmer than average sea surface temperatures around and to the north of New Zealand, increasing the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. Regions in the west and north of both Islands recorded above normal rainfall in August, particularly in the Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Taupo. With many saying in early September that we had received a years worth of rainfall in only 8 months, it was already showing signs of an unusual season. Now it seems to have swung completely the other way.
The sun is shining and it hasn’t stopped for up to 47 days in Christchurch breaking the previous record of 45 set back in 1954. At this time of year we’re losing 4-5 mls of moisture from the ground into the atmosphere so we need that regular rainfall just to keep the grass growing. The warmer weather has come 4-6 weeks earlier than usual and seems to have capped off what has been an unusual year nationwide, weatherwise.
The reality for the rural sector in such conditions is diminished income. Harsh decisions need to be made now to either decrease stock, increase supplementary feeding or move to more precautionary measures like OAD or 16 hour milking in the hope that the rain comes. With a recent drop in Fonterra’s milk payment of 35 cents and the 10 cent dividend reduction due to a massive blunder, farmers incomes are coming under pressure in the current season.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, if you do get a chance to get to the beach this year it sounds like it’s going to be a top fishing season. With some areas of our coastline already recorded at up to six degrees above what would normally be seen in early December, the likelihood of an abundance of snapper and game fish is quite high.
My recommendation: get together with your neighbour and borrow some townies boat, let the girls have the afternoon off and take your staff out to catch some fish, one milking won’t hurt. On a serious note, if you are in times of trouble, there’s always someone to talk to, give them a call or let them know of someone you think might be feeling the pinch.
Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 Open 24/7