Overall farm sales this spring have eased more than 7 per cent on a year ago and dairy farm prices per hectare fell more than 18 per cent during the same period.

Total farm sales for the quarter to September were 1460 properties, which was down 12.4 per cent on a year ago. Dairying was down 8.4 per cent farms, grazing properties down 11.4 per cent, finishing 14.9 per cent and 18.8 per cent fewer arable farms.

The median dairy farm sales price per hectare, for the quarter to September, was $30,876, across 14 dairy farm sales, while a year ago the price was $37,817 across 22 farm sales.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said dairying's median price had declined 18.3 per cent during the past year. A median dairy farm size was 178ha.


He said five of 14 regions across the country had recorded increases for the quarter to September.

While farm sales volumes had eased on a year ago, Mr Peacocke said it was "significant" that sales volumes were down 35 per cent compared with two years ago.

"Reflecting on the extremely difficult on-farm conditions experienced 12 months ago, the early spring of 2018 to date has been one of the best for a number of years, with sufficient rain to stimulate grass growth which has resulted in corresponding increases in production," he said.

While most farmers were enjoying mild temperatures and contractors were busy with silage and crop planting, Mr Peacocke said cautious operators would maintain a close watch on rainfall, factoring in the possibility of a dry period ahead, he said.