West Coast's heavy rain a concern for farmers

The notoriously rainy region is receiving even more wet weather than usual this autumn.
The notoriously rainy region is receiving even more wet weather than usual this autumn. Photo credit: File / Getty Images

The notoriously rainy West Coast is receiving even more wet weather than usual this autumn and farmers say it is a bit of a worry.

According to MetService, the region had been blasted with a series of wet fronts throughout the season, with about half of the region's average monthly rain falling over just four days earlier in May.

West Coast dairy farmer Richard Reynolds said if heavy rain lasted into winter it would create problems with pasture damage, such as pugging.

He said some farmers were drying off their herds and finishing up milking for the season earlier than normal.

"[It is] wet, and cold, but mainly wet, earlier and harder than what we'd expect.

"There are people that are drying off a lot earlier just out of the wetness factor and it's a bit of a worry being this wet this early that it carries on into winter, which obviously no one enjoys."

Meanwhile, over the Southern Alps, Canterbury was faced with the opposite problem, with Niwa's drought map showing dry to extremely dry areas throughout the region.

Reynolds said feed was being sent from the West Coast to Canterbury - the first time he'd heard of that happening on a decent scale.

"It's quite unusual really and probably shows how short of feed some people are in Canterbury to be buying baileage off the Coast."

Frano Volckman, who farms dairy near Karamea in northern West Coast, had also heard of other farmers drying cows early.

"Some of them had a good summer season which allowed them to make sufficient amounts of supplements, which is allowing them to milk through a bit longer, but coast-wide I think it would be safe to say that drying off is occurring earlier than perhaps normally."

"There's been some spells of wet, combined with cold, which has reduced grass growth and put a bit of pressure on farming systems."

Volckman said some fine weather was forecast over the next 10 days which might dry out the ground a little and help with grass recovery before winter - but it was probably too late to make a real difference.