Irrigated farm land in South Georgia in demand investment - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Irrigated farm land in South Georgia in demand investment

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –As the real estate market continues to struggle in this economy, some South Georgia land is in high demand from big money investors.  Well-irrigated cropland and pecan orchards are hot investments right now. That's the good news.

The down side is dryland agriculture properties, timberland, and hunting and recreation property have lost a lot of their value, and there's little demand for them.

Good quality irrigated cropland like this is suddenly a good investment. Pension funds and big investment firms want to buy very large tracts of farmland, because the commodity prices for cotton, peanuts, and corn are high and expected to increase even more next season.

Joe Marshall of Southern Plantations Group says he's had a busy summer, servicing large investment groups seeking Class A irrigated cropland and irrigated pecan groves. With crop prices staying strong, agriculture has become a better investment than many stocks and bonds.

Joe Marshall said "What's driving it all with the investment crowd is all of the other classes of investment are really so bad. It makes agriculture, that is irrigated cropland in the South.

Even though the demand for class a irrigated cropland is high, the prices for that land are not going up, just staying stable. One of the few properties not losing value. So very few land owners are willing to sell, especially with commodity prices on the rise.

Marshall said "The demand was there before the current upsurge in prices, but certainly the current upsurge is reinforcing that."

You won't see any home development on these highly prized lands. The investment buyers will rent out the irrigated cropland to South Georgia producers, which is good for the economy.

Marshall said "It keeps that land in production, and you like local farmers and operators buying their inputs locally. Seed, fertilizer, tractors, labor, and so forth, all locally, so that's good."

Marshall says there is almost no demand by investors for dryland farms. And land owners can't just put irrigation pivots on the dryland farms, because the permits for irrigation and U.S.D.A. crop allotments and bases are hard to obtain.

It comes down to dollars and cents. Good quality farmland will cost the pension funds between $2500 to $4000 an acre. They will turn around and rent to farmers for between $150 to $240  an acre per season, a better percentage return on a dollar than many investments.

Ten years ago recreational properties like quail plantations were highly sought in South Georgia.

Now those kind of recreational properties have dropped in value from 30 to 60 percent.

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