Characteristics of Texas Land MarketsCharacteristics of Texas Land MarketsA Regional AnalysisErin Kiella2019-02-21T06:00:00Zresearch-article
Land Markets

In 2016, the Texas Comptroller's office reported 141.9 million acres of state land operated as agricultural use. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 241,500 farms operated in Texas with the average size being 537 acres. The USDA also reported the average age of a Texas farm operator was 60.1 years old. Texas' agricultural land is divided almost evenly among the REC's seven regions with the largest amount, 21 percent, in Region 3—West Texas and the least, 8 percent, in Region 5—Gulf Coast-Brazos Bottom. Agricultural land use in Texas is dominated by native pasture at 62.8 percent. The next largest use is dry cropland at 13.5 percent. Both land-use types have decreased since this report was published in 2008. Texas is ranked eighth in the nation for land dedicated to organic production. About 146,800 acres are dedicated to organic production, 85 percent of which is organic crop production, ranking Texas fifth in the nation.

The USDA 2012 census ranked Texas number one in livestock, poultry, and their products in value of production, totaling $18 billion. Texas also ranks first in cattle on feed inventory for 1,000+ capacity feedlots. In August 2016, Texas had 2.5 million head of cattle in inventory. In 2016, Texas had 475,000 head of milk cows with 10.8 trillion pounds of production representing about 5 percent of both the total head of cattle and milk production in the United States. The majority of milk production takes place in Region 1—Panhandle-South Plains. Texas ranks number one in sales value for the commodity groups: cotton and cottonseed ($1.6 billion); cattle and calves ($13 billion); and sheep, goats, wool, mohair, and milk ($122 million). In 2016, Texas' top three products by production value were cattle and calves ($7.2 billion), cotton and cottonseed ($3.1 billion), and milk ($1.9 billion). In terms of the number of acres dedicated to a crop, cotton (10.2 million), wheat (9.5 million), sorghum (4.5 million), and corn (4.3 million) made up 95 percent of the total crop production in the state.

In 2016, the state had 408 active gins with 68 percent in Region 1—Panhandle-South Plains. The state had 450 grain-storage facilities, the number remaining relatively unchanged over the last decade. The state also has four major ports—Houston, Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Beaumont—exporting $6.5 billion worth of agricultural goods (2012 USDA census). The state ranked sixth in the nation for agriculture exports. The majority of agricultural exports from these four ports are bulk grains. The top three exports are cotton and cottonseed ($1.6 billion), wheat ($286 million), and seed for planting ($244 million). Houston ranked sixth in the nation with 7.4 million metric tons of agricultural exports. Corpus Christi and Galveston ranked 13th and 15th, respectively, with four and 3.3 million metric tons of agriculture exports.

Texas is also heavily invested in oil production. As a result, many land transactions tend to be affected by the presence of minerals and oil and natural gas production on the land. The number of rigs in Texas averaged 236 weekly and ranged from 173 to 323 rigs in 2016. It should be noted that oil prices were in retreat in 2016. The average rig count for 2017 was 430 and ranged from 324 to 466 rigs throughout the state.


Dr. Kiella (ekiella@mays.tamu.edu) is an assistant research economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

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Characteristics of Texas Land MarketsCharacteristics of Texas Land MarketsLand Markets



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