Land Values - 5

Expanding the Ranch

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Leading the country in increased pasture prices last year were South Dakota, Arkansas and Wisconsin. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (DTN) -- A large, contiguous block of acreage is a big plus in land sales. In Oklahoma, 1,687 acres of grassland in Payne County proved to be a strong auction draw for Gregg Pickens' firm.

Pickens said they considered the sale a "high-profile opportunity" and auctioned the land in 10 parcels. It ultimately all went to one rancher, however, who paid $3.48 million, or around $2,060 per acre. That is a strong showing in a state where the average price for an acre of pasture is $1,470.

"In our area, to be able to put this many contiguous acres together is a rarity. This was also a case where everybody in the area knew about the land and the story behind it," said the second-generation auctioneer and head of Pickens Auctions, of Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Like any property, there were some challenges. The Cimarron Turnpike ran right through the middle of the land; there was a railroad right-of-way and some access issues. But, the seller had the foresight to negotiate in the 1960s for a tunnel under the turnpike to allow for movement of the herd. He had fought against eminent domain and had managed to keep enough rights of land ownership not to damage the property's value.

With such a big property, why the 10 parcels? Pickens said this is a commonly used approach by sales. It lets all the adjoining landowners and outside interests have a reason to participate. They saw in excess of 20 bidders on the property, he said.

Asked if this property, because of its size and unique qualities, was an outlier on price, Pickens said it wasn't. He knows because he also sold another 700 acres that adjoined the property. "In the case of that smaller property, we averaged about $2,200 per acre. That tells me this is a steady market."

Looking ahead to 2018, Pickens believed his area would see prices trend up during the next 12 months. He said a 3 to 5% increase wouldn't surprise him.

Victoria Myers can be reached at


Victoria Myers