Marlborough, NZ drought threatens grape harvest

RadioNZ, 29 Dec 2015.  Extremely dry weather in Marlborough is already taking its toll on vineyards in the region, a winemaker says.

Water restrictions are likely for residents in Marlborough as the region prepares for what could be one of the driest summers in decades.

The Marlborough District Council said the region would experience a severe drought unless there was a substantial amount of rain soon.

Yealands Family Wine founder Peter Yealands said the area was as dry as he could remember.

“There is no soil moisture whatsoever. If you’re trying to drive a post into the ground, it’s nearly impossible.”

“We’ve never never anticipated such an extreme drought, or dry, so early in the season.

Mr Yealands said most wineries would have a backup water supply for dry conditions, but it would only last a month.

Marlborough District mayor Alistair SowmanMarlborough District mayor Alistair Sowman

Photo: RNZ

He said if he ran out of water he may have to sacrifice some of his crop to save the vines.

Listen to Alistair Sowman on Summer Report ( 3 min )

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said wine was the dominant economy driver in the region.

“If we don’t get any rain by the end of the week, the southern valleys irrigation scheme, that irrigates about 4500 ha – mainly grapes – is likely to be turned off, and that’s a major.”

Mr Sowman said if the irrigation scheme was turned off, water would have to be trucked to vineyards.

More: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/293112/marlborough-drought-threatens-grape-harvest

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