Iowa farmland values inched upwards just the slightest bit in the past six months, rising by 0.1%, according to a survey conducted by the state’s ag land realtors.

The survey, conducted every six months by the Iowa chapter of the REALTORS Land Institute, was released March 25. It showed a statewide average increase of cropland values by 0.1% from Sept. 1, 2019, to March 1, 2020. Coupled with a 0.8% increase the previous six months, farmland values rose by 0.9% in the past year.

But Realtors caution that the survey was taken before the coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States.

“Who knows what will happen in the next six months?” said Elliott Siefert with Hertz Farm Management

Siefert said the latest report showed a market that came into the coronavirus storm as a relatively calm and steady force. The largest increase in any one district was 1.8% in Southeast Iowa. The largest decrease was 1.3% in South Central Iowa. Most crop reporting districts reported a gain or a loss of less than 1%:

  • Central Iowa’s average fell 0.3%,
  • East Central Iowa fell 0.2%,
  • North Central Iowa fell 0.1%
  • Northeast Iowa went up 0.3%
  • Northwest Iowa fell 0.6 %
  • South Central Iowa dropped 1.3%
  • Southeast Iowa jumped 1.8%
  • Southwest Iowa slipped 0.3%, and
  • West Central Iowa rose 1%.

Those numbers are for tillable cropland. Average prices for high-quality cropland remained over $10,000 per acre in Central and East Central and Iowa and over $11,000 per acre in Northwest Iowa. They rose to over $10,000 in Southeast Iowa.

The statewide average for high-quality land rose from $9,448 to $9,482 per acre, but the numbers for medium- and low-quality cropland dipped slightly on a statewide basis.

Non-tillable pasture and timber land both increased slightly over the last six months.

Low interest rates are an important factor in the strength of the land market, Siefert said. Although commodity prices are not high, they have been relatively steady.

“It’s just a steady market,” Siefert said.

Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.