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Rent prices increasing for cropland in northwest Minnesota

Rent prices for non-irrigated cropland are on the rise in several counties in northwest Minnesota, bucking the state trend.

Marshall County had the highest jump in rental prices for non-irrigated cropland in the northwest region, jumping $11 from $79 per acre in 2016 to $90 per acre this year, according to numbers released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The average this year for Minnesota was $166 per acre, or a $4 drop from 2016, the USDA said.

Polk County rental prices jumped from $118 per acre to $125, Roseau County increased $3.50 to $53.50, and Pennington County climbed by 50 cents to $65.

Overall, the northwest region averaged $105 per acre, a jump of $4 from last year. That includes Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau counties.

Kittson County had the largest decrease in the northwest region, dropping $7.50 to $75 per acre. Red Lake averaged $65.50 per acre, or a $3.50 decrease.

It's unclear why rent averages are up in the region, but there are many factors that go into the price, said Nathan Hulinsky, a Moorhead Extension educator for agricultural business management for the University of Minnesota.

"Different counties, townships or areas have different quality of soil that determines the price," he wrote in an email, adding types of different crops being grown, growing seasons, how well established the farms are and how much renters are willing to pay all play a role in deciding the price.

Still, counties in the northwest region were low to near average compared with the rest of the state. Goodhue County in southeast Minnesota had the highest rental prices and the highest jump, increasing $55 to $250 per acre. Dodge County in the same region had the sharpest drop with $207 per acre, a $46 decrease from last year.

The cheapest non-irrigated cropland could be found in St. Louis County for $12.50 per acre, which didn't have a listed price for 2016.

Pasture prices were relatively unchanged in northwest Minnesota, with the average price jumping a dollar to $17 per acre this year.

Average rent prices for cropland in North Dakota increased about 2 percent in the year ending in January, according to USDA numbers released in April. Prices in the northern Red River Valley, including Pembina, Walsh and Grand Forks counties, jumped 90 cents to $89.60.

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