tree rotted

Does Your Land Need Curb Appeal to Sell?

Curb appeal – you’ve probably heard the term thrown around in the residential real estate world. Curb appeal refers to how attractive a house (or property, in this case) looks to potential buyers. It’s usually the first impression someone gets when they initially see a property. For residential real estate, the appeal of a house is something that’s very important when potential buyers are browsing, but does this concept apply to land? The answer is yes!

When putting a house up for sale, the owner will want to make sure exterior conditions of the house are in good shape. There are usually a lot of tasks that go into this process such as replacing old siding or adding a coat of fresh paint on window shutters. The same thing goes for adding curb appeal to land. While you probably won’t be doing much (if any) painting on a pasture or timber property, you’ll want to take care of some details such as overgrown grass or fallen trees that are rotting.

broken fence

If you frequent your property and keep up with yearly or seasonal maintenance, you won’t necessarily have to worry about curb appeal come time to sell. But if you’re a landowner who lives far away or just hasn’t had a chance to bush hog recently, there are some to-do list items to get to.

Here are some things you can do to boost curb appeal on your property before selling:

  • Make sure trails and paths are clear
  • Mow overgrown pastures and fields
  • Clean up large debris and brush piles
  • Add or repair fences and/or gates
  • Add food plots for wildlife
  • Plant native grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs
  • Fertilize weak or bare grass spots

These are just a few ideas that can help a property give a good first impression to prospective buyers. However, keep in mind that each property is different. While some of these tips could apply to one property, they might not apply to another.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what you can do to boost curb appeal and get your property sold quickly, reach out to your local land professional!

About the Author: National Land Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in farm, ranch, plantation, timber and recreational land across the country. NLR currently represents land buyers and sellers in 20 states. To learn more, visit www.nationalland.com.

farmland

Has Wall Street Abandoned Farm Producers?

The Chairman of the Federal reserve told a group of senators that in spite of the deterioration of the farm economy, banks are in good shape to make ag loans. This is in stark contrast to the top 30 banks showing a nearly four billion dollar decline in agriculture loans held in there collective portfolios. For example, back in 2008, JP Morgan began growing its ag holdings which reached nearly 75% by 2015. Now, with incomes being reduced and Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings on the rise, they seem to be pulling back from the farm economy despite what the Federal Reserve Chairman says.

Many rural banks are now in a hard spot having to turn away longtime customers because they cant accept any more risk on there balance sheets. However, this may well force some of these producers into the Chapter 12 that the lenders fear. This is reflected in FDIC reports that 1.5% of farm loans were 90+ days late or lenders had stopped charging interest because they were nonperforming and not likely to be paid as agreed.

If you have a local bank that is still lending, shake their hand because they are having a hard time as well!

About the Author: Tim Hadley, ALC, is an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Gladstone, MO. He joined the REALTORS® Land Institute in 2017, serving on the 2019 Future Leaders Committee.

 

 

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flooded field

Thoughts on Flood Recovery for Farmers

With record floods receding all along the Missouri river valley, producers are facing a daunting clean up. With sand up to five feet deep deposited over thousands of acres of land, when it comes to flood recovery, how do you clean it all up?

Before we discuss how to clean it up, you may be asking “Why do I need to worry?” After the 1993 floods, many producers attempted to just plant in their field as they always had. Some areas didn’t produce, and most that did dropped from 75 bushels per acre to about 15 bushels. No one was happy about that and we started looking for ways to get our fertility back.

Federal disaster grants are available to help with cost, but they are capped at 75% of the fair market value of the land before the flood.

flood recover farmland

First, you must remember that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prohibits dumping it back into the river channel. They consider it contaminated, preventing its introduction back into the river. For areas with less than a foot of sand deposits, deep disking is usually the most cost-effective way of dealing with it. This will turn up some organic material for our soil.

Now. to address areas with sand from one to ten feet we turn to a track hoe. With a 180-degree swing, and bucket widths up to 5 feet wide, you can reach down and get the good black dirt. Once you start, a large machine can turn over nearly an acre per day.

This works out to about $2,500 per acre for the rehab cost but, at 70 bushel beans vs 15 bushels per acre, it seems like the only approach that works. If the land is now only worth $2,000 per acre, but you bought it for $5,000 per acre years back, it must be productive enough to cover the loan. So, we continue to rehab section by section to restore the value to this once fertile delta.

About the Author: Tim Hadley, ALC, is an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Gladstone, MO. He joined the REALTORS® Land Institute in 2017, serving on the 2019 Future Leaders Committee.

Cannabis

Concerning Cannabis

In 2012, the citizens of Colorado voted decisively to become the first jurisdiction in the world to allow legal adult possession, use, growing, and retail sales of cannabis (marijuana). Colorado has had legal medical marijuana since 2000. The 2012 amendment to the Colorado Constitution (Amendment 64) also set forth retail marijuana sales rules, a taxing structure that provides for revenue to schools, public and youth education regarding cannabis, and the production of industrial hemp.

Colorado became ground zero for cannabis reform and many other states and municipalities have since been looking to Colorado for guidance and example. Colorado citizens, in greater numbers all the time, have supported this groundbreaking change and the legislature, regulators, and industry have been working diligently to construct a business and legal framework within which to operate.

Cannabis reform is also sweeping the nation. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form, and the 2018 Farm Bill set the framework for legal industrial hemp nationwide. This movement will continue and the Federal government will catch up or be forced to approve and adapt in time as reform states lead the way. The latest Gallup poll on cannabis shows 66% of all Americans across the board support full legalization of this ancient plant. Canada has had legal hemp since the 1990s, and last year they legalized marijuana nationwide.

hemp

Colorado has managed this matter pretty well by writing good laws, monitoring the law’s status and effects, and adjusting regulations as needed to mitigate unanticipated issues for regulation and law enforcement while addressing the needs of the ancient industry. The entire conversation has changed in our state – fewer talk of fears and pot jokes and more talk of business opportunity. In short order, legalization has brought about normalization. For example, in Denver proper, there are more dispensaries than Starbucks.

Retail cannabis sales in Colorado began in 2014. Last year, the adult use (recreational) sales alone topped $1.5 billion, with tax revenues of over $266 million in calendar year 2018. Since 2012, the cannabis industry has created over 2,500 new jobs in the state; jobs that are home grown (pun intended) and won’t be exported overseas.

Colorado studies have shown little impact to law enforcement due to adult use, declining use by youth under 21, increased tourism, and tax revenues in excess of predictions. Appropriately, marijuana is regulated by the Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue and industrial hemp is regulated by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Other states have recognized the futility and costs of cannabis prohibition and are beginning to realize that it is a product that is best regulated, taxed, and properly controlled rather than treated as a criminal matter. Idaho, Kansas, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and South Dakota are the remaining states that have resisted cannabis reform and several of those are either reexamining their status or have citizen-driven initiatives attempting to modernize the regulations in their jurisdictions.

Current legal retail marijuana sales in the US are approximately $6 billion. With recent legalization in California and Michigan, those figures are expected to grow exponentially. The estimated total marijuana demand in the US (including black market) is $50-$55 billion, which is the potential under nationwide legalization. The hemp products industry is hovering around $620 million and is estimated to exceed $5 billion by 2020. Clearly, this is an exciting growth industry with much opportunity. There are numerous impacts of the changing laws to the real estate industry, including land brokers, and it is a billion plus dollar industry that should not be ignored.

“Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form, and the 2018 Farm Bill set the framework for legal industrial hemp nationwide.”

At some point, it is likely that we as real estate brokers in reform states will encounter a cannabis issue in the course of daily business. It could be an inspection issue for a home grow, a request for cannabis appropriate properties, warehouse or retail facilities, leases, hemp production farms and processing, or a myriad of other possibilities. Whether this poses a difficulty or an opportunity, you should be aware of the rules and regulations of the industry.

Hemp and marijuana are the same plant: cannabis sativa. The cannabis plant contains over 60 compounds known as cannabinoids which are unique to the plant. Hemp is a variety of cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% of delta-9 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the component of cannabis that produces the high from marijuana.

cannabis field

Hemp has been a historically important crop and was widely used in industry prior to being made effectively illegal under the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and rendered completely illegal under the Controlled Substances Act of 1971. Hemp has a long list of useful applications: fiber, cloth, paper, oils, plastics, lubricants, cosmetics, food products, bio-diesel and ethanol, insulation, and building materials. It has more than 25,000 documented uses, but will not produce a high.

Industrial hemp was first addressed in the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed interested states to establish programs for research of propagation, growing, utilization, and marketing of hemp. The first seven states that chose to participate gained a head start in developing a robust hemp industry.

The 2018 Farm Bill, passed last December, made major changes to the law:

  • Defines hemp as any part of the cannabis plant containing 0.3% THC
  • Removes hemp, as defined, from the Controlled Substances Act
  • Provides that raising hemp will not impact participation in Farm Service Agency programs
  • Provides that hemp can be included in Federal Crop Insurance programs
  • Requires each state to propose a state plan or operate under Federal rules
  • Allows states to opt out of hemp production
  • Allows interstate transportation of hemp and hemp products

The passage of the new 2018 Farm Bill has really energized interest in the crop; however, full codification, rule writing, and promulgation and implementation of all elements of the new law will take time. Most Federal rules will not be complete until the 2020 crop year, and some issues like crop insurance could take longer. Some farmers have tried hemp production and have decided to wait until the rules are clear and the markets settle before planting again. Processors are still catching up with growers, leaving some farmers with a harvested crop with nowhere to go. I always advise a producer to secure the sale before planting the seed.

The hemp plant has about a third less moisture and nutrient requirements than corn and far less, if any, pesticides. It is an annual plant that grows rapidly to a height of 8 to 12 feet with large seed heads, a fibrous stalk, and tap root. About 40% of the plant material is returned to the soil, adding organic matter. Hemp is a dicot plant with a deep tap root that improves soil aeration and water permeability, particularly in compaction prone soils. The crop is harvested for seed (used as seed stock and a source of oils and food products), fiber (for cloth, paper pulp, rope, insulation, building materials), and production of CBD (cannabidiol), a non- psychoactive substance used medically to suppress seizures, reduce anxiety, pain relief, and other uses. The cannabis plant is resilient and grows well in several different soil types.

As commodity prices for traditional crops remain at 30-year lows, hemp is poised to be a viable, productive plant for continued agricultural production and has raised major interest from all sectors of the agriculture industry. Every hemp meeting for farmers that I have attended has been a standing room only crowd. Approximately 78,000 acres of hemp were grown in the US in 2018. Of that, 70% was grown for production of CBD; 10% for grain; 10% for fiber; and 10% for other uses or crop loss. Some states have opted out of hemp production so far, including Kansas, Nebraska, and Idaho. Over exuberant and uninformed law enforcement has caused several instances of hemp transporters being arrested and detained on marijuana charges. These arrests are examples of some of the rough spots that may occur during the transition to a legal cannabis economy.

I have developed a four-hour course entitled Cannabis Country that goes deeply into the topics addressed here plus an in-depth history of cannabis prohibition, the multitude of uses of the plant, phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, legislation, propagation, markets, and the future of cannabis in the US. Watch for it near you or contact me for information and scheduling.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 Terra Firma magazine.

Kirk Goble, ALCAbout the author: Kirk Goble, ALC, has been a Colorado licensed real estate broker since 1988 and founded The Bell 5 Land Company in 2000. He specializes in farm, ranch, land, and water brokerage. He is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, The Greeley Area REALTOR® Association, and the REALTORS® Land Institute. Goble was awarded the Land REALTOR® of America by the REALTORS® Land Institute in 2013 and is a LANDU instructor for RLI.

Wildlife Management 101

This article on wildlife management was originally published in the Summer 2016 Terra Firma Magazine.

When learning that RLI had an interest in publishing an article on wildlife management, I have to admit, I was more than hesitant.  My reservations didn’t stem from a “lack of knowledge”, my reservations were derived from “the knowledge I have,” and the criticism I’m aware it may attract. Success doesn’t come easy, nor without trial and error or a failure or two, and sometimes it doesn’t fit within a traditionally accepted box.

Wildlife management consists of so many factors, that the series of books, videos and blogs about the subject are literally overwhelming.  Politics, legislation, social perceptions and opinions, environment, mathematics, chemistry, biology, regions, species, habitat and disease are all just a few on a lengthy list of complicated factors that affect managing wildlife.

In a nutshell, wildlife management is ultimately about conservation; the guardianship and best practices of safekeeping our greatest natural wild resources for future generations.

wildlife forest

It also provides an extraordinary enjoyment through a passionate relationship between land and property owners, and justifiably continues to be a motivating factor for folks who purchase land!

I’m extremely fortunate to own, manage and control a respectable tract of leased and deeded ground in the Pacific Northwest.  Taken with a laugh, my personal experience, hasn’t been learned easily, nor done inexpensively via traditional venues.  Private land wildlife management practices are commonly dominated by Whitetail deer, a little waterfowl and an occasional fish or upland bird topic.

To be candid, the folks in the Midwest and down South are hands down, far ahead of the curve in regards to wildlife management.  Whitetail deer are routinely the primary topic of choice.  Justifiably, the Whitetail deer geographically dominate North America by the location they reside.  Non-profit and traditional organizations such as the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) and Tecomate have done a fantastic job of promoting and making wildlife management materials available.  However, I humbly believe, the Whitetail species is a much easier species to manage than many others, and another reason why I chose to write on this subject.

I know, I know… I’m sure I’ll never live that comment down (laugh). Okay, how about this, because there’s more information available on Whitetail wildlife management, justifiably because it’s the dominate non-migratory game in North America, I feel they’re easier to manage and understand (and should be) than other species with less availability and a broader migration range… and they’re easier to harvest than blacktail deer… KIDDING!… sheez… relax! Just trying to keep ya’ll interested in reading!?

In the early 2000s, after reading an in depth QDMA book, frequenting blogs, watching videos and living the lifestyle we sell, I made the commitment to start managing wildlife on our family’s ground about forty minutes outside of town.  Easy right? Just install a few food plots and feeders, develop water sources (if they’re not already there) and voila, the wild game will come flocking in!  Yeah? Not so much!  As with many topics in life, a person can read all the books they can find, but real life experiences, both good and bad, are the world’s best teachers.  In general, the basics are the same: provide a superior food source, water, and lush habitat. Doing this, is without question, enticing to wildlife.  The primary difference between my management practices and traditional wildlife management practices are dictated by my region.

food plot wildlife management

The wildlife management industry started to flourish in the early 2000s. Game cameras were few and a new “hot item” and feeders were on hunting shows everywhere – plus, they were all over the internet.  Ever hear the saying, “Never test the depth of a river with both feet first”? That’s good advice! My original thought process was methodical, and focused on the generals; to enhance food, water and habitat within drainages that naturally lent themselves.  Logically, it made sense to research and purchase available products that have worked so well for others?  So I was off… Feeders! Cameras! Food plots! …and all the associated equipment!

Little did I know that I was in for a completely different education, and all the equipment would eventually be destroyed with minimal results of what I was trying to manage–big Blacktail deer, elk and turkey.  The failing factor wasn’t a lack of genetics, nor wildlife population.  It boiled down to my regional location, and the lack of experience managing wildlife in this location.  Our terrain isn’t flat to rolling like the South or Midwest, where flatter open plains and pockets of creek bottom thickets monopolize regions.  It’s the opposite where I manage wildlife.  We have timber covered mountains, drainages and ridges as far as one can see; small pockets of open meadows monopolizing the terrain in hopes to get a glimpse of something.  That situation also positions the ultimate unmanageable factor; multiple species of wildlife, including and not limited to, abundant predators!  Most importantly, learning how and where those species habituate throughout the year and how to best manage my terrain and climate was a game changer for me.

predator

Being new and few, the first few game cameras I purchased were “top of the line,” nothing but the best… HA! I’ve never been accused of catching on too quickly. After countless dollars in cameras being destroyed, no matter how well I concealed them, a light came on in my head: never set a trail camera after eating without washing and deodorizing your hands in Black Bear country! Their eyesight is poor in comparison to their smell and hearing. Regardless of what slight scent is on my hands when I set cameras, they’ll wind it–and evidently, bears think trail cams taste like chicken!

 

black bearTraditional feeders? UHG! My three-hundred pound metal feeders were knocked over, ripped open and crumpled up like cheap little tin cans. It’s unbelievable how strong Black Bear are! So, I improvised by designing and installing “Bear-proof feeders”. Ah-ha–Gotcha! Only to learn that feeders, if used too consistently, work like a dinner bell for our abundant mountain lion and predator populations.  Luckily, I check my cameras frequently, and DID catch on quickly BEFORE witnessing any lion kills on camera. Embarrassing as it is, at first, I was like, “hey, there’s another mountain lion on camera? I didn’t know they’d come into feeders also after they go off?” Then, a Wait!? Ruh-Row-Shaggy! light bulb came on.

So I now only use the feeders, installed in different drainages, sporadically throughout times of the day and week and primarily during the winter when natural feed and food plots sources are dormant from deep freezes and snow.

Late fall, winter and into the spring are the most crucial times of year for wildlife management in my opinion. The does are pregnant and bucks are either rutting or later shedding their antlers.  It’s truly the best time to provide a solid protein source, vitamins and minerals to the males for recovery, during the rut and horn growth before they migrate to higher elevations. While essential nutrients to impregnated momma’s throughout the birthing and nursing process is pertinent.

All that being said, the most productive source of wildlife management that I’ve consistently witnessed by all types of wildlife are my licks.  The food plots are nice, but there are a lot of natural competitive sources for deer and elk to browse in this area. Ours are primarily frequented by does and younger bucks while the mature ones are at a higher ground, only passing through.

My licks aren’t the blocked type purchased and shipped online.  Those don’t last long around here.  Bear will pick those up and even haul them off like little tennis balls in their mouths or sometimes eat them in one sitting like candy.  I use a formula I found online years ago, posted on a blog by a retired biology teacher out of Missouri, called “Mo’s Lick”.  I’d sure like to reconnect with that gentleman again to thank him and follow up.

He’d posted a detailed story about only being able to afford a five-acre tract of creek bottom ground to lease and hunt on.  He knew there were good genetics in that region, but relying on those deer to reside within his creek bottom without purpose was an unreasonable hope.  Similar to our mountainous country, his tillable food plot ground was limited by access and terrain.  So, in turn, he started his own biology project using licks.  His first deer harvested, and a common size in that thicket scored in the one-hundred and twenty inches, if I recall.  By the fifth year, he’d harvested a one-hundred and eighty-six inch Whitetail!  He never concluded whether he’d thought the original smaller deer were just young, underdeveloped and grew into mature bucks being under nourished prior to his lick supply or if the previously mentioned mature, good genetic bucks from the region frequented and resided his creek bottom more often because of the licks.  His only conclusion was, he’d leased the ground for several years prior, constantly scouting smaller bucks.

After several years of consistently using the “Mo’s Lick” formula, the average buck’s antler size changed dramatically and more consistently within that thicket.  I have used Mo’s lick since, and found great results.  I have pictures of all species using Mo’s Lick: squirrel, fox, turkey, elk, deer and more.  However, once again, our regional terrain plays a big role in consistency.  We don’t routinely see the same bucks over and over like many Whitetail managers.  When fawns hit the ground and the weather starts warming, the Blacktail deer bachelor up and head for higher elevations where it’s cooler–typical males, right? Babies are still young and can’t travel the distances or terrain that mature bucks go each summer.

deer

In turn, I know what I call “my girls” by name when I see them on camera as spring progresses.  I keep a fawn count, who’s had how many, a buck to doe ratio and so forth, while watching them grow up, or disappear to predators–when Mama appears on camera at the lick or food plot alone later in the year.  By the time the babies are strong enough to make the migration to higher ground, fall is upon us again, days get cooler and the need to migrate higher becomes less and less desirable.

As winter storms blow in and the rut approaches, the mature bucks start heading to lower ground.  Depending on which direction the storms blow in and the amount of snow that falls on which facing slope, this can dictate the drainage taken by those mature bucks over previous years. (Bear in mind, our ground isn’t flat, a grid of one-hundred and sixty acres can be three-hundred and twenty plus acres of surface ground, it’s just not flattened out on grid view). The younger bucks stay local for a couple years. Then, start to migrate each spring with the other mature bucks as they mature.  Every year we get mature bucks on camera that we’ve never seen before, and likely may never see again.

Cattle have been known to do similar.  Oregon is an open range state.  We’ve often had cattle in our drainage, with tags belonging to a rancher whose range is three drainages over.  As feed thins, they start heading down the drainage they’re in.  Oregon is extremely diverse.  I’m aware of an area, ten miles away as the crow flies, that buddies of mine manage who find the same deer sheds every year…?  Those deer also migrate and only frequent the area in late fall and shed in winter.  The difference is that there’s really only one major drainage option, a highway and a river that I believe naturally funnel those deer back every year.

For me, the wildlife management learning curve has been an expensive and dedicated commitment worth every second and cent spent.  My advice is that there is no perfect solution or magic wand in managing wildlife.  If there was, the book would have been written and no more needed. Consider your terrain, species and the final results you’re seeking to obtain, before buying a bunch of things that have worked well in other regions and species.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used, continue to use and try new wildlife management products all the time–because they work! However, keep in mind that each area possesses different circumstances.  Talk to others in your region that have been successful. What’s worked for my region, may not work for your region.  Most of all get out and do it, enjoy the process. Management practices can change, but the goal should always stay the same.  Best practices of safekeeping for our greatest natural wild resources, for future generations.

Mo’s Lick Recipe

deer lick recipe

(1) 50lb bag of Di-calcium phosphate (21% or more)
(1) 50lb bag of Trace Mineral Lick (fine)
(1) 50lb bag of Rock Salt (fine)

Dig a hole near a year near a water source, pour and mix ingredients well. I’ve added Selenium to the mix in higher elevations and received a good response from Elk also.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and best of luck!

About the author: Garrett Zoller, ALC, is the Managing Principal Broker of Record, and a founder of both LandAndWildlife.com and LandLeader. Garrett’s hands-on experience in the development of real estate, with strength in rural and commercial properties, administers an expert knowledge of recreational, agricultural and timber real estate.

 

The Surprising Benefits of Common Farmland Pests

There’s plenty of good reasons for landowners to have their guard up around pests. Pests can cause devastating losses to crops, can kill livestock, and generally wreak havoc on the health of your land. However, some creatures with reputations for being pests can actually do more good than harm for your land.

Snakes

Snakes are one of the most common fears in America. Not only do they look scary, snakes have the potential to be deadly. Poisonous snakes can cause serious damage to you and your livestock.

Even though they look creepy, snakes do have their benefits. Snakes eat rats and mice, which carry ticks. Timber rattlesnakes are especially fond of eating tick-carrying pests. A 2013 University of Maryland study showed timber rattlesnakes ate so many ticks that they removed 2,500-4,500 ticks from the site they lived on each year. Keeping the tick population down is important to reduce the spread of Lyme Disease (a bacterial disease carried by ticks), which can be especially important for recreational properties that host hikers or hunters.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? If the snakes aren’t venomous and you don’t have a serious phobia, they can be a boon to your land.

Raccoons

Raccoons may look cute, but there’s nothing cute about the damage they can do to your property. Besides digging through trashcans, raccoons are also known for eating eggs, like those of our snake friends mentioned above, and other small animals. Worst of all, raccoons carry diseases such as parvovirus, fleas, and rabies. According to the Center for Disease Control, raccoons account for 30.2% of all animal rabies reports. Their feces also carry disease such as salmonella and racoon roundworm. None of this is good if you are trying to manage or attract wildlife to your property.

Having raccoons on a property does have a few upsides. They are one of the few animals that eat wasp larvae, which gets rid of the nest. They eat a wide variety of things, including harmful insects and small rodents that can also be considered pests on your land. However, these benefits don’t typically outweigh the drawbacks of having raccoons on your land so its best to find ways to deter them from making their home there.

 

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? A cute, furry face masks a host of nasty diseases and a bad temper. Consider bringing in a professional.

 

Opossum

Opossums have a bad reputation for their mangy looks and tendency to ‘play possum’. Their looks hide the fact that opossums are actually very well-groomed. While ticks may cling to opossum fur, only 3.5% of the ticks survive opossums’ grooming and feeding. Like snakes, their presence on your land can kill thousands of ticks every week.

Besides ticks, they also eat other pests that plagues your land like cockroaches, mice, snakes, and animal carcasses.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? Opossums tend to be non-aggressive, eat ticks and other pests, and can even get rid of poisonous snakes. They may not be the prettiest creatures to look at, but they are good for the overall health of your land.

Foxes

Foxes are often viewed as sneaky, sickly creatures that will kill all of your chickens. That reputation isn’t entirely fair. These cat-sized creatures aren’t naturally aggressive and are easily scared off.

Foxes are also healthier than they are perceived. They can have rabies, but the strain they carry is much less common than raccoons (in 2017, foxes were the cause of 7% of all rabies cases).

If you have small household pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, kittens, and small dogs) or chickens, these could be at risk of a fox attack. It’s best to keep pets locked indoors and make sure the enclosures for any small livestock living outside are secure.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? You probably don’t need to call pest control. In most cases, they are relatively harmless and hunt tick-carrying animals.

Ants

One of the worst things about warm weather is seeing a steady stream of ants trickle into your house. While they may be annoying in your living room, ants have a lot to offer your land. The leaves and fruits the ants bring into their tunnel eventually decompose, creating valuable nutrients for the soil. The tunnels that the ants go through also redistribute nutrients throughout the soil.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? Unless swarms of ants are causing serious damage to your crops, you can leave ants alone.

Some common farmland pests are just pests. Other creatures can benefit your land by getting rid of disease-carrying critters, eating tics, or improving the overall health of your land. If in doubt, contact your local animal control company. While some pests do nothing but cause trouble, other pests can provide a helpful service to your land.

Now that you know what pests are beneficial for your land, you may be interested in other best practices for your managing your land or even looking at purchasing some additional land for yourself. If so, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant tool to find a qualified land expert in your area.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

The Most Difficult Crops to Grow and Why

Some crops are low-maintenance. Other crops require so much upkeep, planning, and patience that they become the divas of your land. These five crops are some of the most challenging to grow, but the rewards might be worth the work.

Cauliflower

To grow thriving cauliflower crops, you need to pay special attention to when you plant. Although cauliflower is a cool-weather crop, it does poorly in weather that is too hot or too cold, so you have to plant the seeds before the first fall frost, but not before the weather has dropped below seventy-five degrees. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for cabbage worms, small bugs that are attracted to cauliflowers and will gobble up your plants.

Cauliflower is also very picky about the soil it grows in, so be sure to plant the crop in soil with a PH between 6.5 and 6.8. If your soil is within this PH range and has access to plenty of sunlight, however, this crop could bloom on your land. Cauliflower does best in sunny places with cool temperatures, such as Northern California.

Keeping the head of the cauliflower nice and white requires a lot of upkeep. Exposure to the sun can ruin the color and flavor. You’ll need to keep the head shielded from sunlight to protect it from sun damage. One popular way to do this is to bend the stalks in a way that allows the outer leaves to cover the head.

Celery

Celery has an extremely long maturing period (anywhere from 120-180 days), so farmers looking for a crop that regenerates quickly should look elsewhere.

To get that signature crunch, celery requires a lot of moisture. It needs consistent watering and even minor changes to its watering schedule can result in wilted, tough stalks that no one will want to eat. It is also important to make sure it is planted in a soil type that holds water well. Celery does not handle dry spells or hot weather well, so only plant this crop if you live in a cooler region.

Melons

Melons require lots of room to flourish. The vines can take up tons of usable land, limiting what else you can grow on your property. The sheer amount of space melons take up causes many farmers to shy away from growing them.

Besides hogging up all the land, there are many things that can go wrong when growing melons. A common complaint from growers is that melon vines will produce lots of flowers, but only a few full-grown melons. This can be the result of too much rain or not enough pollinators. A swing in temperature can result in bitter fruit. Uneven watering during the early growing stages can result in misshapen fruits that won’t sell.

Melons do best in hot, dry climates with sandy soil types, so a property in the Southwest could be perfect to grow melons.

Wasabi

This Japanese horseradish is notorious for being hard to grow. It grows naturally in rocky riverbeds and attempts to replicate wasabi’s natural habitat haven’t found much success.

There are dozens of reasons why farmers consider wasabi the most difficult crop to grow of all time. The wrong nutrient composition or too much humidity will kill wasabi. It is extremely susceptible to diseases and bugs when grown in large scales. Wasabi also has an extremely slow growth cycle, taking between one to two years to reach full maturity.

If you live in the right parts of the Pacific Northwest and have a property with a lot of wet, wooded areas that have well-draining soil and moisture in the air, wasabi might be the right crop for you to cash-in on.

However, if you look beyond these drawbacks, you might have a serious moneymaker on your hands. Wasabi goes for around $160 per kilogram at wholesale.

Head Lettuce

If you want an attractive head of lettuce, uniform watering is key. Uneven watering can result in misshapen heads that won’t sell at the market.

Head lettuce is also extremely sensitive to changes in temperature. A change in temperature can result in bolting, the premature flowering of the plant that makes it taste awful. Planting head lettuce in the shade of taller plants can help reduce the risk of bolting during the summer. Arizona is one of the top states to grow lettuce thanks to its mild winters and soil type.

These five crops are some of the most difficult crops out there to grow. However, if you think you can tackle the challenges that come along with these difficult crops, you may have found the perfect niche crop.

To stay up to date with everything agriculture, land, and real estate, be sure to follow the REALTORS® Land Institute on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you are thinking about purchasing land to grow one of these high-maintenance crops, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant search tool to find a qualified agent in your area with the expertise needed to provide you proper guidance on your land purchase.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

What You Need To Know Before Buying Waterfront Property

Everyone has fantasized about owning their own little slice of land by the water. While living next to an ocean or lake is appealing, buying waterfront property comes with complications that other land types don’t have. Here is what you need to know before buying waterfront property.

Buying Waterfront Property: Know The Rules and Regulations

One of the most important things to know about buying waterfront property is knowing the rules and regulations that control what you can (and can’t) do with the land.

“When searching for the right waterfront property, there are many things you should verify when doing your due diligence,” says Christina Asbury, ALC, with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. “The first is that the land is buildable, and that you can meet any additional setbacks, buffers, or zoning requirements from local, state, or federal agencies.”

Regulations surrounding waterfront properties can be very tight, and can impact everything from what you can do in the water to what sort of structures you can build on the land. Here are just a few questions you should ask before buying waterfront property:

  • Do I have access to the water?
  • Are there speed or height restrictions for boats?
  • Can I build out onto the water?
  • Are there permits required for fishing on the water or using it for recreational purposes?
  • What are the insurance requirements?
  • Are water vehicles (such as jet skis) allowed on the water?

fishing boat on lake

You should also find out if you would be responsible for maintaining the bulkhead. A bulkhead is a wall that separates a property from the water. In some areas, the property owners are responsible for maintaining the bulkheads. This can be an expensive hidden cost that some buyers can’t afford. If you are expected to pay for the bulkhead’s maintenance, be sure to have an expert inspect the bulkhead to see what sort of condition it is in.

Buying Waterfront Property: Flood Risk

“Always consider [the property’s] flood risk and plan accordingly,” recommends Asbury. Properties by water have a much higher chance of being impacted by flooding or other natural disasters. Land in high-risk flood areas can stand to take a serious toll on their long-term value if disaster strikes. Because waterfront property is at such a high-risk for water-related damages, the insurance for these properties can be so high, the cost alone often drives buyers away.

Buying Waterfront Property: Understand That Things Change

Over time, rising or falling water levels can alter the shape of property and change how much land you have access to. Changing rules surrounding water use and endangered animals could also impact how you use your land.

“Waterfront properties are some of our most important natural resources and conservation buffers, so plan ahead for endangered species, wetlands, or other mitigating factors that could influence your plans for the future,” says Asbury.

Identifying parts of the land that could qualify for restrictions down the line can help you plan the layout of your land accordingly. If you are worried about water swallowing up all the usable land on your property, researching the history of the shoreline might give you a clue as to what to expect from the property in the future.

lake house

Between beautiful views and the chance for outdoor recreational fun, waterfront properties will always be in high demand. Being aware of the costs and risks that come with buying waterfront property can help you make the best choice for your when you buy your next property. 

If you are thinking about buying waterfront property, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant tool to find a qualified land expert in your area to get the best deal on the land and make sure you are considering all factors.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

Six Ways To Attract More Animals to Your Hunting Property

The most important part of any hunting property is something you can’t buy at a store: the wild animals. Attracting animals to your land (and keeping them there) can take hard work, but if you are able to provide the key things animals need (food, water, and shelter) they will make their home on your land. Taking these six steps can help attract animals to your hunting property.

1. Prescribed Burns

Setting fire to where you want animals to roam may sound counterintuitive, but prescribed burns are actually a great way to make your property a more attractive home for a wide variety of animals. Prescribed burns clear away dead plants and debris littering up your land so that new plants can grow. The burned plants also provide valuable nutrients for new crops to grow in. All this fresh, rich food will attract animals to your property.

2. Build a Food Plot

Giving animals a reliable source of food is a great way to encourage them to make a home on your property, as Tommy Stroud Jr, ALC, mentioned in his article Adding Recreational Value To Your Property.

“While it does take some time and money to prepare a food plot, the end result will benefit wildlife and keep them on your property,” said Stroud. “This requires cutting timber, removing the stumps, liming and fertilizing the soil, and figuring out what and when to plant. The majority of these food plots are on the edges of hardwoods.”

Plant accordingly to what the animals you want to hunt like to eat. Here are a few popular animal-favorites when it comes to snacks:

Deer: Red clover, orchard grass, chestnuts, acorns, and fruits

Duck: Grass, grain, berries,

Boar: Acorns, roots, bulbs, grass

When choosing what to plant, be sure to plant a diversity of foods in case some crops grow better than others. A variety of food is also important so that food will be blooming year-round, ensuring the animals will want to be on your property 365 days a year.

3. Build a Pond

Creating a water source is an excellent way to bring animals to your hunting property. Ponds and lakes create steady sources of drinking water for animals, and if you add fish to the pond, it can attract carnivores. To learn how to build a pond on your property, Kent Morris, ALC, has a great step-by-step article on his blog.

4. Create Cover

Many animals (especially deer) need to feel like they are protected in order to stay on a property.

Planting tall grasses and low-growing shrubs give deer cover from predators, making them feel safe, as they move around your property or seek places to rest.

5.Timber Stand Improvement

Timber stand improvement (also called TSI) is a method of creating cover on your land by hinge-cutting trees and letting different parts of the fallen tree grow. This creates excellent cover for animals to make a home in. Also, deer love to munch on the sprouts that pop up from the tree stumps.

6. Plant Trees For Winter.

Planting trees that thrive in winter (such as hemlock, spruce, and pine) can give the animals shelter from the worst winter winds and provide protection from other harsh elements like rainstorms and hail.

Since animals can be unpredictable, it’s not always easy to attract animals to your hunting property. However, with these six tips, you can make your land into a paradise for a wide variety of animals.

Interested in learning how to best put these tips into practice and seeing what other ways there are to attract more wildlife to your property? Find A Land Consultant near you for expert advice.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

Five Simple Steps to Increase the Value of Your Land

This article was originally posted in the Lands of America blog

As the world population continues to grow, the demand for quality land will inevitability grow as well. According to the laws of supply and demand, quality land can expect to slowly increase in value over time. If you don’t want to wait around for years for that to happen, here are five steps you can take to help increase the value of your land.

1. Improve Access

Even if you have the perfect property in America, the chances of the land selling will plummet if the property does not include access or has poor access. Not having access will severely limit the amount and type of buyers. To gain deeded access to a property, you may have to reach an agreement with nearby neighbors, do some serious construction, or even go to court. To learn more about the best ways to handle access easements, check out this article from land expert Eric Leisy, ALC, about the best ways to handle the most difficult situations.

Even if you do have legal access, there might be roadblocks such as untrimmed woodland, a road filled with potholes, or a stream blocking smooth egress and ingress from the land. Do whatever you can to make sure accessing the property is as easy as possible. Making it easier to access the property makes it much more appealing to buyers.

2. Add Utility Lines

According to a recent LANDTHINK Pulse Survey, 74 percent of respondents said that electricity is the top logistical concern when searching for land in a rural community.

Adding utility lines can be costly, but they are in such high demand that not having them will significantly lower the value of your property. Running utilities may be simpler in urban areas, where you may be able to just connect to lines on the street and pay the hookup fee. In rural areas, this may take a little more money and work, but will be worth it when it comes time to sell.

3. Build Structures

In most cases, adding structures such as homes, storage sheds, barns, and other structures can help increase the value of your land. This advice doesn’t apply for every land type or every structure. For example, it likely wouldn’t add value to your land if you added a hunting cabin in the middle of your vineyard. The structure needs to be beneficial to the current or future land use.

4. Add or Improve Gates

The entrance to the property is one of the first things a client will see, so you want them to create a good first impression. Gates can also protect your property from trespassers.

“New gates should be properly sized to accommodate any future needs. Consider whether there will be future timber harvests, and the width needed to get equipment through the access point,” says Chris Miller in his article on perfecting your gates. “It is preferable to have the gate installed slightly off the main road so you can easily pull in to open it without having to stop on the road shoulder. The gate also should be installed so that it will not sag and drag on the ground, or not align with their latches properly.”

5. Get a Survey

Many people are reluctant to fork over the cash for a survey. This is understandable—it’s not cheap to increase the value of your land. However, the information you can get from a land survey is incredibly valuable. This information includes:

  • The boundaries of the property
  • any restrictions attached to the property
  • the topography and soil types of the property
  • the location of any easements

“In my territory, the land is not flat and often times you can’t see from one corner to another,” says Bob Stalberger, ALC. “Spending the money to hire a professional surveyor to mark your property boundary corners as well as points between the corners will make a buyer more comfortable when purchasing your property. It also allows you to easily establish or maintain your property line. This can also be helpful when doing any logging, adding a trial system, food plots, water locations or even hanging stands and posting your property.”

These are just a few examples of ways you can increase the value of your land. We hope this article has inspired you to think of what other ways you can add value to your property.

Working with an Accredited Land Consultant is one surefire way to sell your land for the highest possible value. Check out the REALTORS© Land Institute Find A Land Consultant tool to find a land expert near you.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.