There has been a sharp increase in land transfers in the eastern region of the farm belt late in 2010 reports Roger Hayworth, area sales manager for Farmers National Company in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, eastern Kentucky, and eastern Missouri. Strong commodity prices, historically low interest rates, a profitable harvest and other factors have driven land prices up as much as $500 per acre during the last quarter in some areas.

Prices in Illinois, for example, are coming in at $7,000 per acre on average for high-quality land, and as high as $8,750 in certain parts of the state. Mid- to lower-quality property is selling at $4,500 per acre. Values in Indiana are up to $7,500 per acre, while those in Ohio are up to $6,300 per acre.

“We have seen record values in pocket areas, with aggressive activity on high-quality soils,” said Hayworth. “The sale of mid level quality properties has also remained steady with some increase, while low-quality and recreational land has been stagnant at best.”

Desire for quality land has boosted activity at land auctions as potential buyers become increasingly competitive. “We have seen attendance rise at auctions, with buyers determined to purchase,” said Hayworth. “If the land meets their needs as far as soil quality and location, they become very competitive to get what they want.”