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Northland farmers may have to change for the weather

Some Northland farmers are worried this year could be worse than 2013 – despite recent rainfall across parts of the region.

John Blackwell, who farms near Dargaville, says different areas are suffering to different degrees, with Western Northland in particular strife.

“Certain pockets are really bad, but it’s only small areas – compared to last year it seemed like the whole North Island was in drought, so it’s quite different.”

Mr Blackwell says Northland farmers are used to dry Summers, but it’s the variable weather through Spring and Autumn that is pushing everything out of kilter, and they might have to change their farming systems to deal with that.

“we haven’t had a really good growth in November this century, below average rainfall since October is ramping pressure up.

“If you don’t get rainfall before Christmas, your crops fail as well – so in some parts we’re worse than last year.”

The Northland Rural Support Trust, which this time last year was dealing with a widespread drought, has again been inundated with calls from concerned farmers in the worst hit areas.

RST secretary Julie Jonker says those on the West Coast in particular are looking in worse shape than this time 12 months ago.

“If we don’t get significant rain within the next couple of weeks, particularly on the West Coast, and we’re talking about 100mls – there could be some people in trouble.

“It could be pretty serious.”

Ms Jonker says some farmers are telling them they may have to make some drastic changes to deal with the dry if rain doesn’t come soon.

– Drew Chappell/Country TV


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