FARMER FOCUS: Land prices too high in Kansas

Since I last wrote, we had 18in of rain in 21 days, ending the drought, on paper at least. Then as quickly as it started the rain stopped as if someone had flipped a switch, the hot temperatures returned, and now we really need rain again.


There is no rain in the forecast for the next eight days, our soya beans have gone from what looked like a total failure, to a possible bumper crop, back to maybe an average crop in just 40 days. The rain came too late to help most of the maize, the crop insurance adjustor will be out tomorrow to assess mine.


The land sale I mentioned last month totalled over $13.5m (£8.67m) on 3,701ha, ranging from $2,722/ha (£1,750) to $4,455/ha (£2,855) with an average of $3,650/ha (2£,344). This is a very high price for grassland in our county, my brother and I bought 145ha of grass in 2003 for $1360/ha (£870), and we thought that was very high at the time. There is increasing talk of a correction coming in the land market and it certainly won’t surprise me if it happens. I can’t see a tripling of prices in a decade being sustainable.


During August, contractors started installing an underground, reinforced concrete safe room in our house. After watching the Moore Oklahoma tornado live and learning of the death of primary school children because of not having adequate shelter, my wife and I decided we were not going to ride out another tornado season with the shelter we had.


Over the 83 years my family has owned this farm tornadoes have passed north and south of the house, the closest came within about 120m in 1957. I have always felt just being underground would be safe enough, until a recent fatality in our county when the tornado blew a piece of farm machinery in on top of the family. Our shelter will have a concrete top as well as a steel door that swings in to keep us from being trapped.


Keeping your eyes on the sky especially in tornado season, is just another aspect of farming on the Plains.


Brian Hind farms 1,250ha of prairie land in Greenwood county, Kansas, America, of which 770ha is family owned plus the rest is rented. Of this, 330ha is arable cropping with maize, soya, grain sorghum, alfalfa plus a mix of rye, triticale and turnips for grazing by 200 beef cattle. Grassland is used to produce hay.


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