Farm sales fell 7% on the year in the three months to June and the median price per hectare was down 16.3% although horticulture farm prices continued to push higher, according to the Real Estate Institute.
Overall, 427 farms were sold in the three months ended June 30 from 459 farms in the same period a year earlier. Some 1480 farms were sold in the year to June, down 17% on the year.
The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June 2018 was $21,745 compared to $25,993 in the three months ended June 2017. The median sale price per hectare for a dairy farm was $31,881 from $34,789 in the same period a year earlier, a decline of 8.4%.
Horticulture farms, however, saw a median price per hectare jump 75.6% on the year to $279,543.
Northland, in particular, saw increased demand for land suitable for horticulture, stimulated in part by Zespri releasing additional licences for gold kiwifruit and ongoing widespread demand on land suitable for avocados and market gardening, Reinz said.
Half of the 14 regions recorded increases in the number of farm sales for the three months ended June 2018 compared to the three months ended June 2017.
Manawatu/Wanganui (+21 sales), Waikato (+8 sales) and Hawke's Bay (+6 sales) were the top three regions to increase the number of farm sales compared to June 2017.
Canterbury and Northland recorded the most substantial decline in sales (-23 sales) followed by Otago (-12 sales).
Reinz rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said that "rural New Zealand has embarked upon the winter in good shape, with solid confidence after a very good autumn, forecasts of a good dairy payout and ongoing optimism for export returns from beef, lamb and horticulture."
He added, however, "the pervading presence of Mycoplasma bovis remains the dominant biosecurity issue, with outbreaks continuing to have a devastating impact on those farming and rural businesses affected."
Meanwhile, the Reinz all farm price index - which adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type - rose 3.7% on the year in the three months to June 30.
- By Rebecca Howard