Summer rain keeps farmers happy
Awetter-than-average summer has farmers throughout the Waikato smiling.
Matamata farmer Ross Sainsbury has been farming for more than 35 years and said he could not remember the conditions ever being this good.
‘‘It’s very comfortable farming at the moment. We have heaps of grass, the cows are well fed and they’re producing plenty of milk. This is pretty much as good as it gets.’’ Mr Sainsbury said he was about 19 per cent up on production from last year, and although he had plenty of silage on hand, he hadn’t needed to use it yet.
Metservice meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the Waikato’s wet summer was thanks to the La Nina weather system picking up warm air from the tropics.
‘‘Imagine a bathtub of hot water and you blow the steam across with a fan, that’s what it’s like. That’s why some areas, like the Waikato, tend to have above-normal rainfall.’’
He said La Nina would probably hang around for a few more months, with some drier spells likely for the Waikato.
‘‘The weather has a fascinating way of being a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but it does even itself out over time. And while it’s been wet in some places, there are people in Southland dying for rain. It really has been a season of two halves depending on where you are.’’
Mr Sainsbury said the only downside to the rain was that it made it difficult to make hay and silage or shear sheep, ‘‘but it’s only a minor issue’’.
He said the flow-through effect would mean Fonterra would be doing very well and so would the New Zealand economy. The Fonterra payout range for 2012 has been forecast at $6.90 to $7 which, while a dollar less than the 2011 payout, is still higher than the long-term average.
‘‘I’ll be happy with that and it looks like a very good production year. At some stage in the future farmers will start spending money but they’re not doing it yet, I don’t think. Farmers are still being fairly careful with their income,’’ Mr Sainsbury said.
GOOD SEASON: A La Nina weather system has brought higher than normal rainfall to the Waikato this summer. That rain has meant many of the region’s farmers currently have a good level of grass cover.