Weekend rainfall breaks Hawke's Bay drought but tough times remain for farmers

The dry conditions have been crippling for farmers in the region.
The dry conditions have been crippling for farmers in the region. Photo credit: Hawke's Bay Regional Council

A prolonged drought in the Hawke's Bay has finally been broken after sustained rainfall over the weekend.

Although the rain was "marvellous" for farmers, for many it has come too late and the effects of the dry period will continue to be felt through the winter. 

Dr Kathleen Kozyniak, an air quality scientist at Hawke's Bay Regional Council, said rain in recent days has put the region back on track.

"We've had a solid amount of rain over the past week," said Dr Kozyniak.

"Up to 200mm in the western ranges and 25-40mm on the Ruataniwha and Heretaunga Plains so rainfall totals are looking a lot healthier."

She said the area was now "heading into above-normal rainfall territory" for June totals. 

"The only area of the region that is still below normal is northern Hawke’s Bay. Soil moisture has recovered well and in most places is above median levels and hit field capacity."

River flows were also back to normal, she said.

Lochie MacGillivray, co-chair of the Rural Advisory Group, said recent conditions will be a boost in helping farmers survive the winter, but there will still be tough times to come.

"While this rain has been marvellous, for many it has come too late in the season and the impacts of the drought will remain for some time. Many farms will be still facing a significant feed deficit even with this higher than normal pasture growth."

The Government has allocated more than $19 million so far this year to helping drought-stricken farmers around the country.