Citrus Land Price Rises in Florida

Ernie NeffCitrus, Economics

(UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright)

The sales price of Florida citrus land rose in 2018, according to the Lay of the Land Market Report issued by Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate (CBCSRE) on March 29. The price per net-tree acre was approximately 5.8 percent higher than in 2017, and the gross acre price was approximately 9.2 percent higher than in 2017.

“The large growers get larger, and the small growers are getting out,” CBCSRE founder Dean Saunders said at the annual Lay of the Land Conference, where the market report was released. The conference was held at ChampionsGate, near Orlando.

The report on grove sales was broken into segments covering the Indian River area and the rest of Florida’s Citrus Belt.

For the Indian River region, the report said there were a limited number of transactions for groves or former groves. Solar fields, pongamia for biofuels, Chinese vegetables, tropical fruits, water farming and hydroponic farming have all sprung up where citrus used to thrive.

“We continue to see some former groves converting to conservation lands with Wetlands Reserve Program easements providing an exit strategy at attractive prices,” the report states.

It is rare in the Indian River area to see former grove lands for replanting sell for more than $5,000 per acre, the report stated. These properties typically sell in the high $3,000 to low $4,000 per-acre range. However, some groves sold for $13,000 to $16,000 per acre.

The segment for the majority of the Citrus Belt reported that grove sale sizes ranged from 7 to 880 net-tree acres. The average size of grove sales was 65 net-tree acres. Sales totaled approximately 6,022 gross acres and 5,230 net-tree acres.

The 80 grove sales noted in the report totaled $41 million. Sales prices ranged from $1,945 per gross acre to $15,764 per gross acre. The net-tree citrus acres sold from $2,056 per acre to $23,191 per acre. The average for all sales was $6,854 per gross acre and $7,892 per net-tree acre.

Seven sales of groves for alternate uses, such as residential/commercial development, totaled just over $1.9 million. Those sales were of 164 gross acres averaging $11,956 per gross acre, with 126 net-tree acres averaging $15,579 per acre.

“Citrus groves with ample production are profitable,” the report stated. “Citrus greening disease continues to reduce production and debilitate trees statewide.”

Saunders said citrus acreage plummeted from 971,577 acres in 1997 to 400,900 acres in 2018.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large