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Northern Kansas land sale averages $3,500 per acre

For the author, this land sale is personal.

In my part of north central Kansas, farmland does not sell very often. And when it does, there is plenty of competition. Therefore, I was torn when two tracts totaling nearly 200 acres near Randall, Kansas in Jewell County sold May 25.

This land is personal. Tract 1, 160 acres two miles northeast of Randall, is across the road from a couple of my family’s fields. It would be a good addition to our operation, but for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to attend the auction, let alone bid.

This was an Estate Sale; the owner, my mom’s best friend for years and years. The owner passed away in January after a brief illness. She had been my Sunday school teacher, the town librarian, and the very definition of a servant leader. In my first job after college, as a newspaper editor of the county newspaper back home, she was my advertising salesperson. My siblings and I were close friends with her kids. This sale just seemed a little too close to home. As one of the sellers told me in a text message, “It was a good sale. But I’d rather have Mom.”

After several generations of farming, the seller’s name will no longer be in the Jewell County Plat Book. It is the end of an era; a footnote to history, and all those cliches. A bittersweet time for the family, for sure.

Here is more about the sale:

  • Tract 1, 158 acres, including 129 acres of cropland, 27 acres of pasture and trees, and five acres of waste. The soil on this rolling farm comprises mostly Harney silt loam and Roxbury silt loam. A draw through the field stays wet. The fence around the pasture is poor, and there is a pond. The tract sold for $560,000 ($3,544 per acre, or $4,300 per tillable acre) to a neighboring farmer.
  • Tract 2, 39.28 acres on the south side of Randall, contains 29.51 acres of level cropland and the balance is creek. The soil types include Harney silt loam and Roxbury silt loam. It sold for $165,000 ($4,200 per acre, or $5,590 per tillable acre) to an investor.

The crowd was large, active and – typical for a small community – a social event for the town. The sellers were pleased with the selling price, which if broken out per tillable acre, is about 50% higher than what land prices in this part of Kansas fetched 2 years ago. However, it could be the new normal for this part of Kansas: in December, a three-tract auction of 378 acres roughly four miles east of the May 25 sale averaged $4,014 per acre.(And in fact, a sale of 198 acres about 30 miles west of these two fields sold the same night for $7,575 per acre – a record high for the area).

The area had been mired in a drought, but in the last three weeks has received from four to six inches of rain, giving farmers optimism for capitalizing on high grain prices in time for the upcoming wheat harvest and fall harvests.

Bob Thummel Auction and Real Estate had the sale.

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