Farmers are rushing to beat expected bank interest rate rises by driving land prices even further into uncharted territory.
A packed house watched in almost disbelief as a district record price of $11,000 an acre was paid for premium cropping country on the Victorian-South Australian border yesterday.
At that price, the Kaniva block of 785 acres (318 hectares) sold to the competing neighbours for $7.85 million.
With the farm land selling season just kicking off for the year, most expect that record will soon fall.
Land across the southern grain belt is in high demand after the run of good seasons, high prices for grain and neighbours wanting to expand while interest rates are at record lows.
Land sales in SA's Eyre Peninsula are regularly making more than $7000 an acre.
MORE READING: Pioneers knew how to pick the choice farm land.
Only a year ago a Wimmera sale result at Marnoo, on the other side of Horsham, which reached $8000 an acre, was thought to be hard to beat.
There was standing room only at Kaniva's new community hub building at its football grounds for what everyone expected would be a good result for the long-time local owners.
But after bidding pushed past the $10,000 an acre barrier most everyone was holding their breath to see how far it could go.
Westech Real Estate agent Stuart Kyle believes only an interest rate rise will dampen demand but says the benchmark for cropping land has now been set.
Mr Kyle sold another local block at auction last week for $7420 an acre but believed the McCracken land at nearby Lillimur would go even higher.
He described one block as the "jewel in the crown" of mixed farming land in Lillimur.
It had been held by the McCracken family for four generations but has been leased out for years and the farmhouse let to tenants.
The farm was split into two lots for sale.
The first, with the house and shedding, was across 550ac (223ha) and sold to a heady $9600 an acre to the Williams family, neighbours.
The second lot was two of the district's premium paddocks covering 234 ac (95ha) which sold for the breathtaking $11,000 to the Hawkers, also neighbours.
MORE READING: Neighbours pounce on local land sales.
Mr Kyle said the Kaniva district had been extremely fortunate to have a run of six good seasons in a row.
"It has been a bit hit and miss in some years but we have been very lucky, and prices for grain and also for sheep have never been better," he said.
He believed the prices were a record for cropping land in the west Wimmera.
"Previous best results have been around the $8000 mark, so you can see how far beyond that we have gone," he said.
"This is tightly held country around here so when there is some land available for people to expand their operations, they have shown they are willing to invest."
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