The bull market in Midwestern farmland showed no signs of abating as bidders paid well over $11,000 per acre for tillable land in Mason County.

A capacity crowd of bidders and spectators jammed into the Mason City American Legion hall for the auction by Murray Wise Associates. In all, the land sold to three bidders for $4.46 million, according to Joe Bubon, executive vice president of Murray Wise Associates.

"Four tracts making up 364 acres of the most productive land sold for $4.01 million, or more than $11,016 per acre," said Bubon.

Murray Wise, chairman of the company, said that while the values were higher than some expected, they are justified by total returns on farmland. "These prices may raise a few eyebrows, but I think they are opening some eyes, too. Farmers and perceptive investors recognize the impact of today's strong global demand for corn and soybeans," said Wise.

"The auction attracted more than 50 registered bidders today, and those who were bidding at the end understand the math. Even at prices north of $11,000, the total returns of farmland are attractive compared to almost any alternative investment," said Wise.

Wise said the spirited competition for the land reflects not only demand by investors, but also a desire by local farmers seeking to add to their holdings.

"To be sure, we continue to see growth in demand by portfolio managers for investment funds, but those who know the land best -- local farmers -- see the value better than anyone. Someone who is already farming in the area can often farm the land without buying new equipment, so at today's commodity prices, it can be immensely profitable," said Wise.