More than 90 Florida citrus groves or former citrus groves were sold in 2016. Twenty four of the former groves are transitioning to other agriculture or to development. The sales are detailed in the Lay of the Land 2016 Market Report prepared by Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate (CBCSRE) in Lakeland.
The report was distributed at the firm’s annual Lay of the Land Florida Land Conference March 17 at ChampionsGate near Orlando. The conference featured CBCSRE owner Dean Saunders interviewing former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
The report breaks sales into two sections. One is the central ridge, south central and southwest section covering Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Sarasota and Seminole counties. Fifty-five existing grove sales in that section ranged in size from 10 to 1,026 net tree acres, for a total of approximately 7,023 net citrus tree acres and 8,342 gross acres. (Gross acres include all non-citrus acres.) The sale prices ranged from $3,909 to $13,500 per net tree acre, and from $2,815 to $13,500 per gross acre. The average for all sales was $7,811 per net tree acre and $6,576 per gross acre, up from $5,832 and $5,488, respectively, the previous year. Pricing increased slightly in 2016 for both productive and non-productive properties.
The other section is the east coast, composed of Brevard, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and Saint Lucie counties, where six sales are noted. Due to relatively low demand for citrus groves, east coast groves are selling primarily in the $5,000 to $8,000 per acre range. These prices are close to raw land values, providing buyers with fairly little downside should the groves ultimately fail, and substantial upside if there is significant improvement, the report states.
Commentary in the east coast section states that the citrus industry is experiencing “a glimmer of optimism” due to improved production techniques and antimicrobial products available to combat citrus greening in the past year. But young tree planting rates are low relative to rates of tree losses, so the likelihood of continued declines in production in the coming years remains fairly strong, the report adds.
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