Morale throughout the rural sector is generally very good, with solid levels of production in the dairy sector, strong prices for sheep and beef, and continuing optimism for output in the horticultural sector.

Twenty grazing farms and 14 finishing farms were the main Northland sales for the final quarter of last year, with two dairy farms, four horticulture properties, three forestry blocks and a special farm bringing the regional sales tally for the quarter to 44.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data shows the median price per hectare for all Northland farms sold for the three months to December 2018 was $17,326, up from $13,394/ha in December 2017.

Nationally, the median price per hectare for the 440 farms sold in the three months to December 2018 was $27,288 compared with $29,266 recorded for three months ended December 2017 (-6.8 per cent). The median price per hectare fell 10.3 per cent compared with November 2018.

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REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said most regions had enjoyed more rain than the norm in December, with resulting benefits to livestock via strong pasture growth and maize crops which had experienced the best growing conditions recorded for some years.

"Morale throughout the rural sector is generally very good, with solid levels of production in the dairy sector, strong prices for sheep and beef, and continuing optimism for output in the horticultural sector.

"The major constraint balancing such optimism is the dramatic shortage of labour throughout the country, a factor which is impacting negatively on all sectors in the rural economy."

The 20 Northland grazing farms sold for the three months to December 2018 had a median sale price of $10,013/ha, down from $10,481/ha in November 2018 and $10,862/ha in December 2017. Northland prices were close to the $10,192/ha median for the 128 grazing properties averaging 113ha sold nationally for the three months to December 2018 and $11,937/ha for 110 properties for the three months ended December 2017. The median price per hectare for grazing farms has fallen 14.6 per cent over the past 12 months.

The 14 Northland finishing farms sold for the three months to December 2018 had a median sale price of $28,603/ha, down from $30,328/ha in November and $37,361/ha in December 2017.

The 152 finishing farms averaging 40ha sold nationally for the three months ended December 2018 had a median price of $31,169/ha, compared with $32,635/ha for the three months ended November 2018 and $32,000/ha for the three months ended December 2017. The median price per hectare for finishing farms has fallen 2.6 per cent.

The two Northland dairy farms sold for the three months to December 2018 had a median sale price of $21,302/ha, a big rise from $14,817/ha for November sales and $13,488/ha for sales in December 2017.

The 58 dairy farms averaging 97ha sold nationally for the three months ended December 2018 had a median sales price per hectare of $40,589, compared with $50,964 for the three months ended November 2018 (36 properties) and $40,484 (79 properties) for the three months ended December 2017. The median price per hectare for dairy farms has increased 0.3 per cent over the past 12 months.

On a price per kilo of milksolids basis the median sales price was $40.56 kgMS for the three months ended December 2018, compared to $43.57 kgMS for the three months ended November 2018 and $36.67 kgMS for the three months ended December 2017.

The four Northland horticulture properties sold for the three months to December 2018 had a median sale price of $218,342/ha, down from $231,432/ha in November but well up on the $174,613/ha sales in December 2017.

Forty-four horticulture properties averaging 9ha sold nationally for the three months ended December 2018 had a median sales price per hectare of $164,143, compared to $196,142 for 50 sales in November and $242,988 for 58 sales for the three months ended December 2017.

The median price per hectare for horticulture farms has dropped 32.4 per cent over the past 12 months.

The three Northland forestry blocks sold for the three months to December 2018 had a median sale price of $30,984/ha, substantially up on $21,232/ha in November and $4676/ha for sales in December 2017.

Meanwhile, the 191 Northland lifestyle blocks sold for the three months to December 2018 had a median sale price of $600,000, up from $549,000 in November and $415,000 in December 2017.

Nationally, there were 1775 lifestyle property sales for a median price of $690,000 in the three months ended December 2018, up from a $655,750 median for 1820 lifestyle block sales.