PRIME Darling Downs farming country in parcels large and small is coming to the market this autumn, with recent sales indicating strength in land values and confidence in the region.
This is despite its run of ordinary seasons in recent years, and is underpinned by the ability of its legendary soils to produce crops in the summer and winter windows in most seasons.
The largest offering is the Prairie Aggregation, which covers 4392 hectares, and includes 475ha of irrigation and 3559ha of dryland farming country.
Listed with JLL, Prairie is for sale via an expressions-of-interest (EOI) campaign.
Media reports say Prairie sold in 2012 to a US-based institutional investor on the wind-up of the PrimeAg portfolio, and sources say it has been leased under current ownership to established Downs farmers.
The aggregation is expected to have broad appeal to offshore and domestic investors if sold as a whole, and to expanding family farmers and domestic investors if broken up into its three hubs.
Two small blocks — Jerematta at Inverai and Glenmore at Jimbour — are being offered by separate local vendors.
Jerematta and Glenmore are widely to be snapped up by local farmers.
Dalby agency Fitzsimmons Real Estate is selling the 259ha Jerematta via an online auction, and bids open at 11am on Wednesday and will close at 2pm on Thursday.
Fitzsimmons last year sold Oban, a 377ha block on the Jimbour Plain, through an online auction for $12,480/ha.
Fitzsimmons rural sales consultant Aaron Landgren said he felt the platform was well suited to market Jerematta, where improvements include a home, dam, good shedding, and 300t of aerated vertical grain storage.
“Oban was one of the first places we offered through online, and we feel it’s a good way to sell,” Mr Landgren said.
“You can’t get good-quality cultivation country, and there’s plenty of interest in anything that comes to market.”
Situated north of Warra and west of Jandowae, Jerematta is mostly cultivated brigalow and belah black self-mulching soils.
Highlighting the demand for prime Downs block was the sale at open auction earlier this month for $22,480/ha of Zephyr, a 122ha block at Norwin between Pittsworth and Dalby.
Ray White Rural Toowoomba agent Myles Cosgrove handled the sale, and said the auction attracted seven registered bidders.
Zephyr came to market with a 93-megalitre groundwater allocation to underpin production, storage for 600 tonnes of grain, and good shedding.
Its location and water, as well as its stand-out deep black friable soils, boosted its value to what is believed to be a new district record.
Confidence in farming
Dalby-based Elders agent Mick Cuskelly has the Glenmore listing.
The 302ha Jimbour Plain property is being offered by the estate of the late Esme Wegener, and is scheduled for auction on 30 March.
Glenmore is currently one third fallow, with another third planted to mungbeans and the balance under sorghum.
It will be sold bare of crops, and its improvements include a home, bore, machinery shed and 360t of vertical grain storage.
Glenmore has been in the Wegener family since the 1950s, and Mr Cuskelly said he expected it to attract strong interest.
“The Jimbour Plain is so tightly held, and you don’t get an opportunity to buy any of it very often.”
Mr Cuskelly is upbeat about the market for good cropping country on the Downs generally.
“We are finding the younger generation is more interested in farming, and there’s definitely a surge in them being involved.
“There’s exuberance and confidence, and that’s great to see.”
Mr Cuskelly and others said the versatility of premium Downs country has enabled astute growers to pick crops and varieties in their rotations to turn a profit from farming, even in less-than-ideal seasons.
Markets for crops include feedlots for cereal grains, silage and cottonseed, and container packers and bulk traders for pulses and cereals.
Scale further south
While Glenmore and Jerematta sit north-west of Dalby, Prairie Aggregation’s three hubs are south and south-east of the regional centre.
JLL agents for the sale are Clayton Smith and Chris Holgar, who say the offering represents an unprecedented opportunity to acquire one of the inner Darling Downs largest farming aggregations in a single transaction.
Prairie Aggregation’s St Ruth Hub is centred 22km south of Dalby and covers 2300ha.
This includes 1493ha of dryland cropping country, and a further 475ha developed for irrigation from a 1009ML ring tank.
St Ruth Hub has several sheds, three homes, and storage for 2100t of grain, plus a 252ML groundwater irrigation licence supplemented by flows from Ashall Creek.
Colonsay Hub is dryland farming only and sits 17km south-west of Jondaryan.
It covers 1272ha, and improvements include a home, 1351t of grain storage and multiple sheds.
Prentices Hub has several homes, multiple sheds and 863t of grain storage, and covers 820ha of dryland farming country 22km south of Jondaryan.
Prairie Aggregation is for sale by a two-stage campaign, with stage one closing on 21 April.
Properties which make up the aggregation may be acquired in one line or as separate assets.
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