Bill Enns, a central California real estate agent specializing in farmland, fields dozens of calls every week from potential buyers. Many want almond, pistachio or walnut orchards -- or any land suitable for growing nut trees.
This summer in Merced County, Enns brokered the sale of 1,200 acres of open ground lacking a good source of water. Listed at $12,500 per acre, the land attracted dozens of buyers and sold within a month for a whopping $15,000 per acre. The buyer will plant it with almond trees, a notably water-intensive crop.
"It was one of the highest sales per acre that we've seen for that kind of land," said Enns, vice president of the Farm Lands Department at Pearson Realty. "We've seen some numbers that would just blow your mind."
California's almond industry, which grows about 80 percent of the global almond supply and 100 percent of the domestic supply, saw the most dramatic growth -- powered by strong demand from new money-spending middle classes in India and China. The growth has prompted a rush for almond-growing land and pushed almond land values through the roof.
For more, see: With almonds' rising revenues, land values soar