North Otago had just 13 inches of rain in the 12 months to the end of February.
That’s not nearly enough when our average rainfall is about 20 inches (500 mls).
We had recurring droughts through the 1980s and early 1990s which were devastating not just for farmers but for the people who worked for, serviced and supplied them. That impacted on Oamaru and the wider economy and because of that the news was full of drought stories.
This year there’s hardly been a mention.
That’s mostly due to the larger area which is irrigated. Nothing beats water from the sky but at least those of us with irrigation can keep growing grass and feeding our stock.
However, farmers are becoming increasingly worried. There are limits to what irrigation can do and a lot of dairy farmers with irrigated properties rely on dry land farms for wintering stock.
There’s still time for autumn growth if it rains in the next couple of weeks. But temperatures are dropping and if it doesn’t rain soon it will be too late for winter crops.