WEST FARGO, N.D. – Every other year, the National Ag Statistics Service publishes county cash rents. The most recent report was published the second week of September and it shows similar land rents for 2019 as in 2017.

For the states of North Dakota and Minnesota, cash rents for non-irrigated land are generally higher in the Red River Valley than throughout the rest of the state. Cash rents are higher in the lower third of Minnesota than in the upper two thirds of the Gopher State. Both of those scenarios are based on the potential to raise 200-plus bushel corn.

Regions that have seen an uptick in corn yields tended to have slightly higher cash rental rates and it’s going to be difficult to change that trend, said Bret Oelke, Innovus Agra, LLC president and farm analyst, of Barrett, Minn. He spoke along with Frayne Olson, Ph.D., NDSU Extension Service crops economist/marketing specialist, at the Red River Farm Network Issues and Events Center during Big Iron.

Landowners are going to need to see proof of yields and prices if corn producers are asking for lower land rents for 2020.

“When we’ve been in an upslope of corn yields, you have to ask which product drives profitability,” Oelke said. “If it’s corn, we had the opportunity to sell a boatload of $4-plus cash corn this year. Those regions – it’s going to be really, really difficult to bring down those cash rates, because we have multiple years of those positions in place.

“If sugarbeets is the grower’s driver, then there’s a different set of discussions,” he continued. “If growers have a soybean rotation with a few other crops added, then it’s easier to discuss the land rents because it’s possible to see the lack of profitability.”

While not all farmer may agree with that, North Dakota cash rents move from lowest to highest from west to east. In a wet year like 2019, that could mean the potential for greater profitability is in the western half of the state.

Cash rents for 2019 in the western two thirds of North Dakota ranged from $27 per acre in Dunn and McKenzie counties to $77.50 in Stutsman County. In 2017, McKenzie’s cash rent averaged $24.50, Dunn’s was $27.50 and Stutsman was $72.50.

In eastern North Dakota, Richland County in 2019 led with $135 per acre rent ($128 in 2017), followed by Cass at $128 ($106 in 2017) and Sargent at $110 ($103 in 2017). Barnes County reached $90 – up $13 from 2017, and Grand Forks County was $96 – up $4.50 per acre from two years ago.

On the Minnesota side, cash rents in 2019 compared to 2017 in select counties were: Kittson: up $1.50; Marshall: down $3; Polk: down $16; Norman: up $11, and Clay: down $6 per acre.

In the heart of Minnesota’s southern corn counties, Blue Earth County (Mankato) cash rent averaged $209 per acre in 2019 compared with $232 in 2017. Overall, Minnesota’s 2019 cash rent for non-irrigated cropland averaged $163 per acre – down $3 from 2017.

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