Prepare for a hard summer
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.