Looking at other Arizona commodity trends, farm appraiser Shawn Wood of Western AgAdvisors, Buckeye, shared a lackluster outlook for cotton acreage this year due to two major factors – changes made in the new federal farm law’s cotton provision and increasing alfalfa acreage in the Grand Canyon State.

“Cotton doesn’t rise to the top this year,” Wood told the group.

She cited lower profit margins for cotton compared to alfalfa where prices continue to increase due to a strengthening western dairy industry linked to surging milk prices.

Wood says several valleys in the state are 80-percent planted in new alfalfa. Some growers pulled out 3-4 year-old alfalfa stands, decided against crop rotation, and planted alfalfa again.

Speaking of dairy, Tom Van Hofwegen of Farm Credit Services Southwest, Tempe, shared a bullish forecast for the Arizona dairy industry. Milk prices have risen since the second half of last year due to world production issues and a global powdered milk shortage.

“2014 is expected to be a very good year for the dairy industry,” said Van Hofwegen whose own family milks cows. “Obviously it will be a cyclical situation but we hope it lasts a long time.”

On the Arizona crop land sale and rental prices forefront, the overall message from regional rural appraisers was prices for crop land are stable but increasing across the southern half of the state.

Land and rent prices in the greater Phoenix area are higher tied to urban development. Water costs are headed north.

“Most Maricopa County farm land is priced at levels that cannot be supported solely by ag production,” said Charlie Havranek, broker and appraiser with Southwest Land Associates.