Farmers at rock-bottom as parts of the country the driest they've ever been

Farmers say they're at rock-bottom as parts of the country are the driest they've ever seen at this time of year.

The worst-hit areas are northern Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago and incomes are down hundreds of thousands of dollars, impacting the wider communities.

Canterbury farmer Roger Beattie has been planting his fields with feed crops without success.

"This thing is dead as," he tells Newshub. "As deep as you can dig it's dry, it goes dry and then hard."

And that's far drier than usual for April on his Early Valley Road property.

"This is the worst for this time of year that I've ever struck it," Beattie says.

A dry summer and little rain last winter means conditions for him and other farmers right up the east coast of the country are dire. 

"Because if you don't get grass growth in the autumn, you're in trouble."

Beattie's got rid of some stock, and brought in extra feed but that's costly and doesn't solve all the problems.

Parts of Hawke's Bay, Otago and Marlborough are also drying up.

"We are dry-land farmers here in east coast Marlborough, we're used to it dry so when we say it's dry, it's got pretty bad," farmer Ally Avery says.

Avery's family has been farming in Ward for over 100 years, she says they've had no significant rainfall since November last year.

"Morale's down and farmer fatigue is huge."

She and other farmers down the east coast have been dropping up to 40 percent of their stock because of the conditions which hits them hard economically.

"We'll be looking at a good couple of hundred thousand dollars loss of income and that's money we don't spend in the communities and that affects other businesses," she says.

Marlborough Federated Farmers president Phillip Neal says the financial strain is taking its toll on their mental health.

"The extra work of feeding out each day and they've been doing that for months on end, it's just the stress and strain is just getting to them," he says.

Banks Peninsula saw light rain on Tuesday with around 5mls expected, but farmers say they need at least 25ml's of decent rain to give them anywhere near the moisture they need.

But Tuesday's light rain is providing a glimpse of hope for this Canterbury farmer.

"I'm getting spots of rain - that's a good omen," Roger Beattie says.

And one he'll continue to pray for.