Drought risk increasing

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Hot sunny weather has been prominent in North Otago over the last couple of months, and if it continues North Otago Federated Farmers president Richard Strowger says they may have no choice but to declare a drought.

The word drought is being floated about because there has been very little rainfall over the last few months, with a few inches of rain needed to ease the pressure on farmers.

The hot warm weather has been tough on Farmers in North Otago, however Mr Strowger said many farmers should have plans in place.

“I’d imagine that most farmers have plans in place to cope with the dry weather shall it continue for long periods.”

Mr Strowger said at least three inches of rain is needed for farmers.

We will need to see how things go over the next few weeks, but if there is minimal rain then we will have to look at our options and whether or not we need to discuss declaring a drought,” he said.

“It’d be good to see rain and about three inches of rain fall, for it to dry up for the next 10-14 days and then see it rain again would be an ideal result,” he said.

With large amounts of stock sold and plenty of farmers already using winter feed, a lack of rain until March could result in making harvesting over autumn and winter a bit trickier.

“If there’s no significant rainfall in the next few weeks then a drought may need to be cleared,” he said.

Mr Strowger said they had been in constant communication with farmers to assess difficulties they may be having.

While farmers want there own crops to produce the required food for animals the amount of rain which has fallen in Southland could provide extra harvesting.

“The wet weather in Southland will hopefully mean that prices for harvesting will stay similar and that food supplies for stock in Southland could potentially be gathered.”

Waitaki District Council Emergency Management manager Jane Lodge said the weather has been dry as of late.

“Things have been quite dry and while rain has fallen it’s only been in small doses and that hasn’t been enough for some farmers.”

A drought has not yet been declared with that decision to be made by the Ministry of Primary Industries.

“At this stage I haven’t heard from them, but it will need to get quite serious before I am required to help out,” she said.

Miss Lodge said the warm weather will be having some effect on farmers and horticulture in the area.

“Rural fire have been working really hard to make sure all protocols are being followed to help prevent a fire,” Miss Lodge said.

Rain is scheduled to fall in North Otago over the next 10 days, however Miss Lodge is unsure just how much that
will be.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY