Thursday, August 24, 2006

Huge alfalfa farm goes on the block

By BEVERLY CORBELL The Daily Sentinel

Thursday, August 24, 2006

SAGUACHE — Saguache County’s North Star Farm, reportedly the biggest alfalfa farm in the state, is going on the auction block.

Owners Myron and Jayne Smith are putting the 5,427-acre farm up for sale in an auction to be held on site on Sept. 14, said Carl Carter, spokesman for the J.P. King Auction Company of Gadsden, Ala.

Selling the big parcel is a huge operation, Carter said, and will begin with advertising in state, national and international newspapers.

“We’ll mail a thousand brochures out, and the last two weeks before the sale will have the farm staffed full-time so people can come out and inspect the property and form an opinion on what they want to pay for it,” Carter said.

Potential buyers can bid on the entire farm, on three parcels of about 1,500 acres each or one parcel of about 800 acres.

Included in the sale are 32 center pivots that irrigate more than 3,800 acres, 30 irrigation wells, three domestic water wells, 14 grain bins, scales, 10 storage barns and two homes — plus all the farm equipment.

Carter said he wouldn’t hazard a guess on what the property will bring, but it will no doubt be in the millions.

“We usually just try to leave that open and let the bidders make up their own minds,” he said.

The Smiths, who were unavailable for comment Wednesday, also have a home in Cleveland but plan to take life a little easier on their 250-acre mountain ranch also in Saguache County, Carter said.

Selling the farm at auction is probably the fastest way for the Smiths to move the property, Carter said.

“It’s often the case that a property this size can be on the market for years, so they came to us because they’d like to go ahead and get it sold,” he said.

The alfalfa farm is not only profitable, but surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument and the San Juan and Gunnison National Forests, he said.

On the day of the auction, bidders will register in the morning and enter the open bidding. The property will sell at absolute auction, Carter said, and will go to the highest bidder or bidders with no minimum bid or reserve.

“The bidding will be face-to-face and elbow-to-elbow at the ranch,” Carter said. “It’s some of the best people watching you’ll ever see.”