"Thank you WeatherWatch, bang on, it's pouring with rain here today!" verses "Damn you WeatherWatch, I got soaked walking to work".
Once again forecasters have the delicate balancing act of talking about the rain - and just like at the start of this year many either love it or hate it.
Farmers, growers, gardeners and those on rain water or wells have an accute sense of when things are drying out - well before weather forecasters and weather maps start to mention it. In the same way that city motorists know where not to drive on the roads at certain times of the day, those in rural areas have a sense of when water needs to be conserved at certain times of the year - and lately that has been the case in northern areas.
Rain last week and this week has been patchy - not widespread across entire regions even. However the downpours have been intense and have significantly boosted water levels in areas that needed it most.
The downpours will ease by Friday when a new system in the southern Tasman Sea moves in closer. This will bring showers to western and southern areas and rain to the West Coast.
Next week - and possibly the week after - may be drier for many regions. WeatherWatch.co.nz will continue to update you on possible lows - so you can either plan when to water your garden - or perhaps which day is the best day to go to the beach with the fam!
Another rain maker flirts with the North, heats builds in the South
Last week a low with sub-tropical connections brought areas of torrential rain - while other parts of the same region missed out. This week another low is in an almost identical position bringing, once again, the chance for 'hit and miss' heavy falls.
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says northern facing regions are most exposed to the heaviest rain. "Places like Northland, Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty look most exposed to these areas of heavy rain, mixed in with plenty of cloudy dry spells and drizzle patches too".
Mr Duncan says a poll run by WeatherWatch.co.nz at the weekend showed 62% of those who responded didn't receive enough rain from last weeks low. Just 31% said it was a 'perfect' soaking.
The rain this week comes just days after WeatherWatch.co.nz told dairy giant Fonterra to brace for an increasingly dry month ahead, despite the recent rainmakers. Fonterra agreed with WeatherWatch.co.nz that the month of December was critical to many in the north following a drier than average spring.
However city and town folk, perhaps with the exception of those who rely on rain water, are increasingly loving this weather pattern which has delivered hot weather to the north.
"Normally by late November and early December the news is all about how hot the South Island and eastern North Island have been - this year it's been about how hot and dry the north has been and how wet, cloudy and cool many southern areas have been".
Mr Duncan says a heat wave this week will form over southern and eastern areas and highs are likely to push up around 30 degrees, especially when a strong nor'wester kicks in late this week across the country due to a Tasman Sea low (which is dropping into the Southern Ocean but will bring some rain to the West Coast and a few showers elsewhere). WeatherWatch.co.nz says next week is looking mostly dry.
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Prices in Fonterra’s fortnightly auction have jumped again – resuming “business as normal” after a small series of drops.
The average selling price, of $4,973 USD per metric tonne, is more than 50% higher than this time last year, and sets a new peak for the year – after the drought led to a scramble for product in April.
The GDT Price index rose nearly 4 percent on the last auction, which coincided with a 0.7 percent fall in volume.
Skim milk powder was the biggest mover, lifting 5.6 percent on the last auction, while milk protein concentrate, butter milk powder, and butter also made strong gains.
The cherry season has kicked off with a bang, following the lifting of trade tariffs to Chinese Taipei.
Sunday marked the start of the New Economic Cooperation with the Customs Territory of Taipei, which includes Taiwan – and our cherries will be the first to benefit.
Duties on other products, such as milk powder, apples, wine, cheese and butter also came off on Sunday, estimated to be worth around 40 million dollars to the country straight away.
Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, visited a cherry orchard on Sunday, and says growers are understandably excited at the news.
“This is a great Christmas present for them, their employees and other businesses throughout New Zealand.
“Chinese Taipei is New Zealand’s largest market for cherries. Before today, these exports were charged a tariff of 7.5%, and apples faced a tariff of 20%.”
Nathan Guy says it’s a timely shot in the arm for many of our export markets, and the fact it’s a world first is another positive.
““This is a grassroots example of how free trade deals benefit New Zealand, and particularly the regions. It emphasises the importance of other free trade agreement negotiations, including the Trans Pacific Partnership, which could have major benefits to New Zealand.
“Once the Chinese Taipei agreement is fully implemented tariff savings will reach $75m, based on current trade. But given trade can be expected to increase, those savings are likely to be even higher,””
Beef tariffs are set to be removed in 2 years’ time, while kiwifruit and sheepmeat will come off in 2017.
The first shipments of cherries are set to be shipped this week.
The MPI is reporting an increase in the spread of the pesky cattle parasite theileria, which it says is now present in more than 300 farms around the North Island.
The Ministry’s figures show an average of 20 herds per week are picking up the parasite, which is spread mainly through ticks, and is fatal in around 1 percent of cases.
The parasite causes anaemia in cattle, and has been shown to affect milk production of dairy animals, but industry good organisation Dairy NZ is playing down the mortality issue.
Dairy NZ Chief Scientist Dr Eric Hillerton says the main focus of unaffected farmers should be in protecting their herd from infection, and being alert to any risks.
“It’s going to be highly variable, but it’s never high.
“There will be some herds, a large number, with no mortality at all, or not even recognised it.
“There are a few, very few, you could count them on one hand – who have had a significant problem with it.”
Dairy NZ is advising anyone with concerns to contact their local vet, as they will have the best tools to deal with the symptoms, but herds will eventually develop an immunity to the parasite.
“They will eventually become immune, but they will not eliminate the parasite – it will stay in the blood.
“These are animal health issues, so your vet is your first port of call. “Your local vet will have all the knowledge and skills to help you.”
It’s thought the parasite originated in Australia, where it’s been present since 2006, while the first New Zealand case arose in Northland just last year.
The commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has released a damning report into the quality of New Zealand water, pointing the finger at a number of pollutants, including New Zealand farming.
Dr Wright produced the report in collaboration with NIWA, and the organisation Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
The report looks at the country’s projected land use by the year 2020, and notes that a future of increased dairying is inevitable if commodity prices continue their upwards trend.
According to the report’s models, nearly 400 thousand hectares of land not currently used for dairying will be converted by the year 2020, increasing the likelihood of nutrient run off into waterways.
Dr Wright noted in the report that stocking rates are already trending upwards, and this pattern is likely to continue, which could result in increased phosphorus, nitrogen and organic growth occurring in rivers, which interferes with the food chain, and lowers the overall quality in the country’s waterways.
The areas with the biggest increase in run off by 2020, according to the report, would be Southland, Canterbury and Otago, with the Wellington region also recording large increases.
Farming representatives and politicians have been quick to respond to the report, with Dairy NZ saying publicly that nutrient runoff limits on farms already exist, and have been set by individual communities.
“It’s telling us something we’ve known a long time.
“The industry has been working proactively with every regional council in the country, because we know if unrestrained growth occurs, it could lead to deteriorating water quality.
“We’ve supported the National Policy Statement on freshwater management, the National Objectives Framework, and we’ve never once complained because we know, it’s the right thing to do.”
Dairy NZ says the report “paints an unrealistic picture of the future, that ignores the limit setting process” that’s underway around New Zealand.
“For us, the main way to reach the country’s environmental and economic goals, we need to work with each region, catchment to catchment, and work constructively together to see what water quality should be like, and how to fix it.
“That’s the world we live in, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Environment Minister Amy Adams and the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy have released a joint statement, reinforcing the Government’s support for the science behind the figures, while recognising it as a warning shot across the bows of New Zealand governance.
Minister Adams said in the statement that the report constitutes a “worst case” scenario if good policy is not put in place to manage the environmental impact of agriculture.
Minister Nathan Guy says the Government’s freshwater reform package will address many of the issues outlined in the PCE report, including national bottom lines for freshwater quality, a collaborative planning process, and a huge spend on cleaning up existing problem areas.
“The Government is investing heavily in research to tackle the environmental impacts of agriculture.
“Much of this research is focussed on reducing nutrient loss on-farm, improving effluent management and more efficient irrigation.”
Mr Guy says he’s confident that with the dairy industry pushing hard for stock exclusion from waterways, and a reduction in the runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, the dire picture painted of 2020 will be avoided.
“Farmers realise the importance of sustainable environmental practises as the land is their biggest asset and they need to take good care of it.
“They know that water resources need to be better managed and modern technologies including more efficient irrigation systems and water storage projects will help our overall sustainability.”
Many have also pointed to the fact that the report’s modelling is based on data collected between 1996 and 2008, and as such, does not take into account the measures taken since then.
Full Report: http://www.pce.parliament.nz/media/media-releases/large-scale-change-in-land-use-putting-pressure-on-water-quality-environment-commissioner/
Federated Farmers Response: http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/publications/media-releases/article.asp?id=1152#.Uo1f1MRmg41
Nz Dairy Farmers Response: http://www.dairynz.co.nz/dairynz_news.aspx?articleId=2145882542
Ministry of Primary Industries and Environment Response:http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/report-reinforces-need-govt%E2%80%99s-freshwater-reforms
A new outbreak of kiwifruit vine disease Psa has been confirmed – this time in Kumeu, in North West Auckland.
It’s the first positive Psa test in the area, and comes nearly 3 years to the day since the first case of Psa was identified in the country.
Kiwifruit Vine Health, the organisation set up in 2010 to deal with the outbreak, says while Kumeu is a relatively small growing area – consisting of just 25 orchards – each one is important, and the procedures for containing the disease are the same wherever a new case is confirmed.
CEO Barry O’Neil says a control area of 10 kilometres around the infected property has been established, and is encouraging growers to be proactive in preventing any further incursions by introducing or continuing spray programmes.
The majority of orchards in the region are the Hayward, or green variety, but the positive test was returned from a gold, Hort 16A vine.
KVH Representatives met with some local growers, and updated them on the situation earlier in the week, while advising them of the control measures being put in place.
A map of the control area, as well as advice for growers in Kumeu and contacts at KVH can be found online
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