Pre­pare for a hard sum­mer

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By MATHEW GROCOTT

THE grass is slightly greener in the South Waikato but farm­ers still need to pre­pare for a hard sum­mer.

A drought seems likely to be de­clared in the Waikato again.

Re­cently ap­pointed DairyNZ South Waikato re­gional leader Wade Bell said farms around the South Waikato District were likely a bit bet­ter off than those fur­ther west and on the Hau­raki Plains.

As the South Waikato News spoke to Mr Bell yes­ter­day a light rain was fall­ing in Toko­roa.

‘‘I guess it’s some­thing to make the ground damp isn’t it,’’ he joked.

A lot more rain will be needed to stave off a likely drought and farm­ers should be pre­par­ing for sev­eral more weeks of dry weather, Mr Bell said.

The dry spell had come a lot ear­lier in the sum­mer this year than nor­mal, he said.

‘‘The cur­rent soil mois­ture deficit is the same as what you’d see in Fe­bru­ary.’’

Mr Bell urged farm­ers to trim stock num­bers, dry­ing off and culling low per­form­ers.

‘‘If you can get ac­cess to sup­ple­men­tary feed keep your core group of cows still milk­ing.’’

An­other drought in the Waikato would put farm­ers un­der ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant’’ fi­nan­cial strain, Mr Bell said.

Feed prices were likely to in­crease and while the Fon­terra pay­out was high, pro­duc­tion would likely be down.

Mr Bell said some farm­ers in the district were al­ready look­ing at switch­ing to once a day milk­ing. As a stop-gap Mr Bell sug­gested farm­ers try milk­ing on a 16-hour cy­cle which would al­low them to re­turn to twice a day milk­ing if sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall ar­rived in the new year.

LIGHT RE­LIEF: A misty rain fell over much of the South Waikato yes­ter­day but farm­ers will need a lot more of the wet stuff to hold off a drought.

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