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19 May 1998
The El Nino induced drought that struck most of the east coast of both Islands will reduce farm gate returns on affected
farms by an estimated $260 million at the year ending 30 June 1998, with a further loss of $170 million over the next
Owing to the worsening drought conditions, the above figures have overtaken estimates of farm gate losses published in
MAF’s edition of Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture and Forestry which was released today.
The drought led to the early marketing of livestock and eventually to some disposal of capital stock. While there were
transfers of livestock away from drought areas, the export kill was significantly up on last season.
The drought is estimated to reduce this season’s dairy production by about 2.3% though the overall output is expected
to be 1.5% higher than last season as a result of higher cow numbers and favourable pasture conditions in the spring of
The regions affected by the drought (east coast of the South Island, North Canterbury, Hawkes Bay, with North
Otago, Gisborne and Wairarapa affected to a lesser degree) carry 31% of the national beef herd, 45% of the national
sheep flock, and 38% of the national deer herd.
The drought caused arable and horticultural crops on non-irrigated land to have lower yields with apples affected by
sunburn, size and water core problems attributed to very dry conditions.
Tree mortality in forests increased as a result of desiccation and forest fires in the regions, and the dry conditions could
predispose forests to attack from insect and diseases.
For further information contact:
Ronnie Horesh, SONZAF Editor, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Tel: (04) 4744100 Ext: 8499