As the Western Bay of Plenty enters 2020’s second month with no rain -with none on the radar for at least the next 10 days- growers are starting to feel the heat of the current dry conditions.
Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty provincial president Darryl Jensen: “Vets say they are getting inundated with calls from farmers wanting them to go and scan cows to determine empty stock, so they can de-stock their farms to reduce demands for feed.”
Darryl says the effects of the dry weather can be seen from Waihi/Katikati through to Rangitaiki Plains. “Our coastal flats like Belk Rd, Pukehina and Rangitaiki are our wetter coastal country that can usually hang on. But these areas are starting to come under pressure now too.”
Kauri Point’s Hugh Moore, who is managing director of avocado orchard management and harvesting cool storage service KauriPak, says it’s probably one of the severest droughts the WBOP has seen.
“One of the reasons for that is we’ve actually been in a type of ‘drought’ for 18 months. We’ve got the lowest recordings of water we’ve had for 100 years – we haven’t had our aquifers filled up and if you look at the last 18 months, it has probably been some of the driest months on record.
“This means our drought started quite early – we’ve been irrigating since October. Last year we began mid-December. And our tensiometers through winter showed deficits at deep levels, at 900m,” says Hugh, who grows kiwifruit and avocados. “So there is kiwifruit in stress, such as outside rows, avocados are fighting it but fruit will start to slow down. I’m currently measuring kiwifruit growth and growth is slowing.”
Hugh says while kiwifruit will have a higher dry matter content this upcoming season, he’s expecting smaller size fruit. “The 1982 drought I remember – I believe this is worse. This time we’ve virtually had no rain, not even 10mm or 20mm.