Hawke's Bay is expected to officially be declared a drought region this week despite rain forecast for some areas.
Minister for Primary Industries (MPI), Nathan Guy, declared Northland to be in a state of drought last week and is expected to do so for the Bay and Waikato shortly.
Hawke's Bay drought committee, made up of government, business and farming representatives, could ask for help when its committee meets in Napier tomorrow.
Committee member and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said there would be "serious implications" for sheep and beef farmers if it did not rain in the next month.
"We could go into an autumn drought with little grass heading into winter and animals getting lighter than normal conditions.
"But I am hopeful it will rain in March and if it does, Hawke's Bay is one of the best places to respond because our warm weather means the grass will grow back quickly."
Mr Yule said the committee would make its recommendation on whether to head into a drought or not, following its meeting.
"Declaring a drought will bring in some low level support in severe areas as well as help from the East Coast Rural Support Trust in terms of budgeting, counselling and co-ordinating feed supply.
"The trust will provide the ability for farmers to watch over each other.
"I think urban people should not underestimate the significant stress such dry conditions place on rural families."
Federated Farmers national president and Hawke's Bay farmer Bruce Wills also planned to be at the meeting but said even if a drought was not declared, there would be some assistance targeted at those rural areas most in need.
"The difference between calling a region a drought area or not, is very minor.
"We'll get a bit of MPI assistance for the Rural Support Trust in terms of counselling but it's more about recognising rural people are struggling.
"There certainly is plenty of support going into dry areas even without a drought being declared.
"A small example is the 0800 Feedline (0800 376 844) where people can buy or list feed."
Hawke's Bay farmer Bruno Chambers said declaring the region a drought zone was "more than warranted".
"We've had 84mm of rain in the last six months and I'm not aware of anyone else who has had less rain than us.
"There is a belt of about 10km at the back of Havelock North towards Waipukurau which I would say is the driest anywhere in Hawke's Bay."
Mr Chambers' sheep and beef operation was in the middle of that 10km belt, near Matangi Rd, East of Te Mata Peak.
"We are sheep and beef but we don't have any beef at the moment. We're down to 3500 ewes, feeding them on silage. It's highly critical we get rain before winter because, honestly, (with) the lack of grass on the farm, even the rabbits are bringing their own cut lunch."
Mr Chambers said he'd be interested to see what assistance farmers could apply for when the region was declared a drought zone.
"It comes down to a question of tax implications and I guess it's also a recognition that Hawke's Bay is suffering, probably more than some places already declared a drought zone."
While Waikato and Hawke's Bay were the next likely candidates, Wairarapa and parts of Rotorua and Canterbury also potential candidates.
Much-needed rain in the North Island will not be enough to bring relief to parched farms after the driest February in 40 years.
Patchy showers fell in the central, northern and eastern North Island yesterday morning, but barely enough to top up water tanks and penetrate dry soil.
Last month was New Zealand's driest February since 1973 - the same month New Zealand had its hottest day of 42C in Christchurch.
WeatherWatch weather analyst Richard Green said yesterday's showers were very localised and lasted for about half an hour.
The showers may have looked impressive, but they were expected to be short-lived - and they brought only about 5mm of rain. That was well short of the 50-100mm needed to alleviate the dry soil conditions.
"It's a start, but not enough," Mr Green said.
"We'd need about another 10 days like [yesterday] to alleviate the situation."
Mr Green said all the moisture would evaporate over the next few days.
"And by Friday it will be like it never fell, which is not great either."
There would not be enough rain for flash floods, and barely enough to top up water tanks.
Mr Green said farmers had been in touch to say they were happy to see the rain. "But they're more frustrated because it looks more ominous than what it's actually delivering, so it is disappointing for farmers.
"They want to see more and I would say that we're looking at more droughts being declared over the next week to 10 days by the Government."
He said that rainfall figures for February showed that more than half the nation recorded less than 25mm, with Napier managing only 14.2mm for the month.
Mr Green said the dry spell would continue for at least the next fortnight, with pockets of showers but nothing significant.
He said the anticyclones which had been blocking potential rain-makers were expected to last until the end of the month, which was not good news for farmers.
Central, northern and eastern parts of the country could get some more significant rain about a fortnight from now - but long-range models in the last month had often promised rain but failed to deliver.MetService forecast patchy rain for rural Hawke's Bay today, making its way into Napier and Hastings tomorrow.
An evening change from westerly winds to southerlies was expected to bring patchy rain tonight to rural Hastings and Eastern Rangitiki.
Tomorrow, the few morning showers were to become fine breaks in the afternoon for most of Hawke's Bay.