The Mid-South and Delta include southeastern Missouri, eastern Arkansas, west Tennessee, the Mississippi Delta, and northeastern Louisiana.

George Baird IV of the Land Management Group, Collierville, Tenn., says farmers are changing cropping systems to improve profit potential related to higher grain prices and new technology. Some farmers are shifting ground from cotton and rice to more soybeans, corn, wheat, and grain sorghum. Emerging crops in isolated areas include melons, potatoes, and other vegetables.

“With new (plant) varieties and technology we can make almost any property productive,” Baird said. “Now we are seeing buyers start to recognize the different quality of land based on improvements. It helps us manage the weather risks much better.”

Land improvements include drainage, irrigation, fertility, grain facilities, and farm shops.

While the demand for land sales in this region has seen a dramatic increase over the last two to three years, Baird says a notable increase in market transactions has occurred in the last six-to-twelve months. The overall size of each transaction continues to push higher.

Most overall sales are landlord-tenant transactions or private treaty. There are a few public auctions in the extreme northern parts of Arkansas and southeast Missouri.

Higher quality land will continue to fetch higher prices. Barring a major outside market occurrence, Baird expects values for all land to move higher over the next six months. He believes high quality, developing tracts could push 6 percent to 8 percent higher over the next six months and more than 10 percent higher over the next 12 months.

“If we look at our production capability — prices, land and water, and the environment — I think the Mid-South is just starting to hit their stride on land values,” Baird said. We haven’t even begun to see the numbers we can produce like the Midwest has.”

About 500 farm managers, rural appraisers, and industry members attended the ASFMRA annual meeting.