SAN ANTONIO (San Antonio Express-News) – The struggling economy and record drought conditions have taken their toll on Texas land sales.

While industry experts say price declines on Hill Country land have been fairly small — prices around San Antonio fell about 10 percent in the last year, according to Phyllis Browning Co. broker George West — the volume of sales has been cut by nearly half.

The trend appears to be statewide.

Texas rural land sales have dropped 50 percent this year, said Charles Gilliland, a research economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. And a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found farmland values in Texas did not change in 2008.

Gilliland said sales of farms statewide were slightly better in the second quarter this year than the first, and some of that has been from investors looking to put money into farmland.

“There are investors anticipating some inflation, and historically farmland is a good way to hedge against inflation,” Gilliland said.