An extended run of dry weather - broken to some extent by rain this week - has led to a drop off in the number of New Zealand farm sales.
Latest figures from the Real Estate Institute of NZ (Reinz) show there were 379 farm sales in the three months to the end of February 2013, compared with 399 farm sales in the three months to January 2013, a decrease of 5 per cent.
The Reinz All Farm Price Index dipped by 3.3 per cent from the previous three months, from 3039.77 to 2939.42.
There were 17 dairy farms sold in the month, compared to 25 in January and 35 in December.
Reinz spokesman Brian Peacocke said there had been a definite decline in the February farm sales figures, particularly for dairy, and the issue was with supply.
"There's inevitably been an impact from the dry weather because if the seller thinks his property is not looking good he might hold on to the farm till spring," Peacocke said.
"We expect there will be those that have sat back this autumn that may come forward later."
Other variables like time of year and farm profitability could also be a factor in the shortage of listings, he said.
Demand for dairy units was still strong, especially for well irrigated properties in Canterbury.
For the three months ended February, the median sales price per hectare for dairy farms was $33,254, compared to $35,530 for the three months ended January and $34,223 for the three months ended February 2012.
The Reinz Dairy Farm Price Index fell by 1.6 per cent in the three months to February compared to the three months to January, from 1749.36 to 1722.22.
Peacocke said it was important to note that dairy farms accounted for only 20.3 per cent of total farm sales, compared to grazing properties which made up 44.6 per cent, finishing properties 18.7 per cent and horticulture properties 7.9 per cent.
The number of grazing properties sold in the three months was 169, compared to 176 for the previous three months and 180 a year ago.
The median sales price per hectare for grazing farms was $12,900, compared to $16,250 for the three months ended January and $14,880 for the same time last year.
Lifestyle farm sales were down 6.7 per cent, from 1504 to 1403, but were 12.9 per cent higher than a year ago.
The national median price for lifestyle blocks rose by $30,000 from $465,000 to $495,000. That places the national median price just $3500 below the record high reached in January.
Horticulture farms fetched a median sales price per hectare in the period of $118,371, up on $89,047 for the three months previous.
"Increasing activity in the Bay of Plenty reflects a quiet re-emergence of optimism in the kiwifruit sector," Peacocke said.
The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February was $21,951. In the year to February, there were 1445 farms sold, 11.6 per cent more than in the year to February 2012.By Ben Chapman-Smith Email Ben