Quarterly Update – Q2 – 2024

By Lindsay Humphrey

07 /01 /24

While a wise farmer won’t ever curse the rain, it was certainly a relief when it finally let up in late May to early June as some farmers were still trying to get their crop in the ground.

“It’s been such a strange spring because we’ve had variable weather and spotty rainfall,” said Halderman Vice President Pat Karst. “Some of our clients and tenants are done planting and done side dressing nitrogen fertilizer on corn while others are still trying to plant and have to side dress at the same time. But when it rains every three or four days there isn’t time to get into the field and get it done.”

April was the last time a majority of Indiana had a stretch without rain longer than a week. The rains relented in late May and early June providing the reprieve farmers needed to finish up the 2024 planting season.

“It’s a fun time of year to be a farm manager because we get to scout crops and inform our clients about the progress they’re making,” Karst said. “We’re also in the process of planning those bigger projects that we’ll complete after the crops are harvested in the fall.”

Fueling additional excitement around corporate headquarters are three new hires – Emma Melcher, Jason Johnloz and Brandon Stroble.

“Their enthusiasm and energy is contagious and it makes me want to work harder to help them get started,” Karst said. “They each have a group of farms to manage under the tutelage of a seasoned manager. We’re going to work extensively with them for the next two years on these farms and developing their respective territories.”

With roughly 40 growing seasons in a farmer’s career, no year is ever the same. Farm managers have the unique task of working in an environment where the circumstances and conditions change every single year. Flexibility, adaptability and patience are skills learned through the passage of time and needed almost every spring in agriculture.

Farm Real Estate Today

Most farm land changes hands in the winter months after harvest and before planting. That remains true in 2024.

“Even though there isn’t a whole lot of land for sale right now, for this early in June we already have a number of farms listed for late summer and early fall,” Karst said. “I think people want to take advantage of current high prices and they’re concerned that we might see a correction to those higher prices resulting from lower commodity prices and projected farm incomes this year.”

While Karst believes a correction to land prices is possible, he expects it to be minor. Many producers agree with that sentiment according to the Purdue Ag Barometer.

“In their monthly survey of about 400 people, Purdue asked where people thought land prices would be in five years and the vast majority said they think they’ll be higher than they are now,” Karst said. “Based on what’s happened in the last five years, I think that’s a fair prediction.”

Land prices increased by almost 40 percent in the last five years. And while Karst doesn’t expect a 20 percent decrease in land prices, that type of decline still wouldn’t put those prices back where they were in 2018 and 2019.

Of course, interest rates will play a role in how much land prices will either increase or decrease in the next five years.

“There’s been some disappointment around interest rates because everyone thought the Federal Reserve Bank would lower them at their last meeting and they didn’t,” Karst explained. “Interest rates will always be a concern and something that people talk about but there’s nothing we can do other than manage our debts as best as we can.”

And managing is something Halderman does exceptionally well. Farm management is just one of the many value-added services Halderman offers clients.