Rain on the wishlist
It looks like another long, dry summer for farmers as La Nina conditions hang over the country but Hinuera dairy farmer Stew Wadey isn’t worried.
‘‘At the moment, we’re still zipping along quite well with milk production but you can see that if we don’t get rain soon we’re going to hit a brick wall,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re going to have some challenges if we don’t get some appreciable rain.’’
La Nina hit New Zealand last summer, which was a record- breaker for high temperatures. Scientists say the system is weaker this year but it will still bring long, dry periods with no sustained rainfalls.
Mr Wadey said there was still a lot of green in East Waikato thanks to a good spring, which also means plenty of silage has been made, and that having plenty of supplementary feed is key to getting through drought conditions. ‘‘ We have plenty of options to feed our cows, with feed wheat and meal feeding, which is quite in vogue at the moment,’’ he said.
‘‘A lot of farmers are supplementing grass pasture feeding with other products.
‘‘There are plenty of feed products available other than just plain palm kernels.’’
Pasture management is another important part of lasting out a drought, said Mr Wadey.
‘‘You want to stretch out your round and get as much out of it as possible,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve had the wrong end of the stick as far as a good pastoral farming conditions go. Things have changed a bit but farmers are getting better at dealing with droughts, I think.’’
The dry conditions have also been causing problems with the growth of summer crops.
‘‘ I planted two paddocks of turnips recently and they’ve been really struggling to get going because there’s no moisture in the soil. They’re about three weeks behind where I’d expect them to be.’’