SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate summarized Florida citrus land sales in 2019 during the company’s annual Land Conference Feb. 27-28.
Company founder and managing director Dean Saunders pointed out that citrus acreage in Florida is approximately half of its pre-HLB disease level. He said the 300 boxes of production that are now considered good would have been a very bad production level 20 years ago.
The citrus report started with a look at Polk, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Okeechobee, Manatee, Highlands, Lake, Collier and Hendry counties. Grove sale sizes reported for those counties ranged from 5 to 1,500 net tree acres. The average size of grove sales was 69 net tree acres with a midpoint of 30 acres. Approximately 5,731 gross acres and 4,666 net tree acres were included in 68 selected 2019 sales totaling $48 million. The net tree citrus acres had a price range of $3,532 to $15,464 per acre. The average for these sales was $8,442 per gross acre and $10,369 per net tree acre, with $8,000 per net tree acre as the midpoint.
The reported sales include a large citrus grove transaction in north Hendry County. That investment-grade citrus grove sold for $22.75 million and consisted of 2,160 gross acres and 1,500 net tree acres. The price was $10,532 per gross acre and $15,167 per net tree acre.
For all sales, the 2019 price per net tree acre is approximately 31 percent higher and the price per gross tree acre is 23 percent higher than in 2018. Most of the increase is due to the large Hendry County sale.
The volume of reported citrus acreage sold in these counties during 2019 is approximately 5,731 gross acres, a 4.8 percent decrease from 2018.
Citrus groves with ample production and desirable forward-looking fruit contracts are usually profitable, according to the report.
The report stated that in the Indian River citrus region, consisting of Indian River, St. Lucie, Brevard, Martin and Okeechobee counties, the citrus industry has consolidated to a handful of fairly strong and hardened growers. Indian River grapefruit, famous as the highest quality in the world, continues a 25-year stretch of declining acreage. There has been some new planting of groves, with some growers encouraged by the newer varieties and rootstocks that appear to provide some level of tolerance to HLB.
Many former grove lands in the Indian River region continue to transition to solar power production, the report added.
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