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Land sale sets new record in Nobles County

This parcel of land in Worthington Township sold for a record $13,000 per acre Tuesday. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- The sale of one parcel of agricultural land in Worthington Township on Tuesday set a new record high in Nobles County.

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The winning bidders, Todd and Lorna Kruger of Sibley, Iowa, paid $13,000 per acre for the 156.8-acre parcel of tillable land, for a total price tag of $2,038,400. Sold by the heirs of Ella Mae Sall, the Prins-Sliver Auction Service saw brisk bidding among a field of regional bidders in the auction, according to Steve Prins. It was one of three separate parcels sold by the Sall heirs on Tuesday.

The previous record high land price paid in Nobles County was $12,050 per acre, according to Nobles County Assessor Joe Udermann. Prior to that sale, the highest per-acre price paid was $11,700.

The $13,000 per acre price was paid on land with a crop equivalency rating of 87. That figure is often used to gauge the productivity of the land through factors such as soil type, climate, crop combinations, market value of crops and cost of production, according to the website of the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office.

"It had a high crop rating -- a high soil type," explained Prins of the land in the northeast quarter of Section 4, Worthington Township. "And, it had exceptional drainage opportunity through the Nobles County tile system."

Prins said their auction company "knew that it would sell well," and was pleased with the "almost unusual amount of active bidders." Bidding started at $8,500 per acre and climbed to the $13,000-per-acre final bid within 15 minutes, he added.

The second parcel sold that day was immediately south of the first -- a 107.37-acre lot of tillable land with a crop equivalency rating of 83.33. The winning bidder, Joel Lorenz of rural Worthington, paid $11,100 per acre, for a total cost of $1,191,807.

"That started at $7,000 an acre," said Prins. "It's still good soil, very similar to the north one, but it's a slightly lower crop equivalency rating."

He said the land is also triangular in shape due to the old railroad tracks, which isn't ideal.

According to the warranty deed on file at the Nobles County Recorder's office, Ella Mae Sall's father, E.O. Olson, had purchased the two parcels with some adjoining land, amounting to 310.17 acres in total, in April 1946 at a cost of $31,017, or $100 per acre.

The third lot sold by the Sall heirs on Tuesday was an 80-acre parcel in the east half of the northeast quarter of Section 21, Indian Lake Township. It had a crop equivalency rating of 72.21, and brought $9,000 per acre. Phil Sonstegard of Sioux Falls, S.D., was the winning bidder of the parcel.

"It was a good farm as well, with a lower crop equivalency rating," Prins explained. "Another factor was the limited access to the county tile system."

Each of the three sales will close on Oct. 1.

"As far as the buyers, we hope that the farming industry continues to be good -- it's been good for the past few years and that's the reason they can afford to pay these prices," said Prins, adding that a healthy farm economy is good for the community and local businesses.

"You can't believe the number of people looking for land," he added. "We have got a list of people who want land so terribly bad that you can't believe it. That's what's driving the prices up. The corn prices, the bean prices have been good, but there's just such a demand."

Udermann said this latest sale, if considered an arm's-length transaction -- meaning it wasn't sold to a family member -- would be factored into the county's sales study for property analysis and valuation.

"Currently we are sitting at 91 percent for our median," he said. "We need to be at 90 to 105 (percent) to be within the acceptable range."

Udermann expects the median percentage to change following the end of this recording year, which is Sept. 30, because of the time trend set by the region, as well as the number of sales and prices paid for qualified sales in the one-year period.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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