Gladstone buys $5.1m of Florida farmland

The REIT, which now owns 48 farms, continues to focus on high-margin horticultural crops with the 400 acre acquisition.

Real estate investment trust Gladstone Land has acquired 401 acres of farmland in St Lucie County, Florida for $5.1 million.

The NASDAQ-traded real estate investment trust (REIT) has agreed a seven-year lease with an operator to raise bell peppers and green beans, according to a release.

“We are privileged to make our first acquisition in south-east Florida with a highly-regarded vegetable grower as our tenant-partner,” said Bill Frisbie, the company’s managing director for the Eastern United States in a statement.  “We now own 48 farms across the US.”

The acquisition is in keeping with Gladstone Land’s focus on targeting higher-margin speciality row and tree crops, rather than commodity cropland. In November year, Gladstone acquired nearly 700 acres of South Florida farmland, which it converted from watermelon to green bean and bell pepper production. At the time, Frisbie told Agri Investor that the choice to change crops was at the discretion of the grower brought on to manage the property.

Other recent acquisitions from the REIT include a pistachio orchard in California and an organic potato operation in Colorado.

Prices and export volumes for US horticultural products have been more stable than those for commercial grains. Experts have told Agri Investor that US horticultural land prices have remained strong, while commodity crop properties have fallen in value by as much as 20 percent.

Gladstone Land issued a $50 million IPO in 2013, making it the first publicly-traded REIT focused entirely on farmland.