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Landowner newsletter reports:

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." The quote is from Samuel Clemens, better know as Mark Twain.

But it could also apply to the Iowa farmland market.

There is plenty of evidence farmland values are weaker across the Corn Belt. Iowa is no exception.

But something got into the water around June 9 and 10 because that's when two eye-blinking auctions occurred.

The first was June 9 when 80 acres located two miles east of Boyden in Sioux County sold for $20,400 an acre. Wow!

It had 78 tillable acres. The soils on the farm were rated 76.2 on the Corn Suitability Ratio scale (100 being maximum). That compares to the county average of 64.8. Using the new CSR2, the soils carried a rating of 99.5 - nearly perfect.

That area has a history of headline-making farmland auction prices. That includes the bellringing $21,900-per-acre auction Oct. 25, 2012, for 80 acres. It was located a little southwest of Boyden. Other farms in that area sold for $20,000 and more in 2011 and 2012.

But this is two years later and corn prices are $3 to $4 lower than they were in 2012.

The big surprise came June 10. That's when 389.5 acres of mostly tillable land located on the north side of Osage in Mitchell Co. passed under the gavel with prices on four tracts ranging from $19,100 to $19,700 an acre!

Those sale prices are especially shocking because north- central Iowa was hard hit by rains a year ago, resulting in a substantial number of acres claiming prevent plant payments rather than planting a crop.

Land auctions in the area had been somewhat soft as a result. But this farm featured an improved cattle feeding operation, including silos and buildings. But most importantly, it featured some of the highest-rated soils in the state.

The auction, handled by Sullivan Auctions, LLC, Hamilton, Ill., drew a crowd of 400 with plenty of registered bidders. The cropland was offered in seven tracts with the cattle-feeding operation and farmhouse each offered as separate tracts. Four bidders wound up purchasing the seven tracts of cropland.

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