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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Situation is that there is a quarter section on the east side of the Duck Mountains in Manitoba whose owner would like it turned into cropland. Presently there is mostly poplar bush on it. I have not seen it in real life, just on google earth. I am going to physically see it tomorrow so will get a better idea of what it looks like. The land is right on the highway so access is not an issue. There is cleared cropland in the area but I don't know anything about the area.

What their thought was is that someone would make a deal to clear the land for a period of free rent. I am somewhat suspicious that the cost of clearing would require 45 years of free rent to make it work. That being said I am about as familiar with that area as I am with Mars and have no personal bush clearing experience with larger areas.

Is clearing for free rent reasonable or should it be fenced and put cows in it? Any ballpark on clearing poplar and scrub per acre? There is zero possibility of picking up some equipment and clearing the land, it would all be contracted. Any thoughts on options with this situation?

Thank you for your thoughts.
 

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I’d be surprised $1000 an acre would touch it for clearing right now with $2.00 fuel. Well at least if it has bush on it like around here. We’re doing some with a D8T right now and I think they’re billing out at $325-375 an hour or so. 3 hours an acre don’t get it farmable!
 

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It’s grey wooded fluff soil I presume? Probably rocky. There is clearing and then there is all the follow up to get it farmable. That takes a long time. As others said, there is often a reason stuff is left in bush, especially in that region.
 

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Well maybe if you have some young boys who need character building otherwise run like hell in the other direction. Probably looking at till the second year to crop it and about 5 years before any breaking would look like a normal field and be farmable with hoe type drills.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The piece is old family land that was once apparently fields. Family left and kept title to the land, nobody has done anything with it for 70 years. It was apparently logged at one time by louisiana pacific for pulp but that was decades ago. As far as soil type etc I have no idea and the frozen ground will make digging a hole to have a look a bit difficult. There are a lot of trees on it, pretty much covered so just going around them isn't in the cards.
 

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If this is grey wooded soil as indicated, they our area is similar.
I've never attempted to keep track of costs, using our own equipment and mostly our own labour. 2 unwilling boys and a bunch of neighbors to pick roots. If I was honest with my costs, I doubt $1000 per acre would cover it. This is big bush around here though.

Land that was cleared during winter or spring, then broke in the spring, I am usually seeding a few days later. I have very low exectations of the first crop. And I'm generally disappointed even at that. And if it rains at all, it is mostly a write off in the first year. Compaction from all the spring work is a killer here. Nitrogen tie up from the decaying matter. Lack of mineral nutrients in this grey wooded soil seems to take a couple of years to catch up, regardless of fertilizer rates.
My Wishek disc is the most important tool. Once most of the stumps are gone, it will chew up a lot of material, and level stump holes and humps. A mulcher would be even better if it fits the budget.
2nd year, I direct seed into the stubble, and then come back and pick roots thoroughly. 2nd year is usually a good crop, but not great.
3rd year is usually better than the surrounding worn out land that has been farmed for decades, and gets better from there.

I've considered making a similar offer to neigbors, especially adjoining. I think I would need 10 years rent free to be worthwhile. But I seem to have enough on my plate improving my own land for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've considered making a similar offer to neigbors, especially adjoining. I think I would need 10 years rent free to be worthwhile. But I seem to have enough on my plate improving my own land for now.
The owner said that many years rent free would be fine, as long as there is something better than what is presently there in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok so you spend 1000 bucks acre up front over 2 years and GICs are worth around 5.5% today. You are never going to make money on the deal. Don’t waste your time going to look unless your getting 25 year lease for a dollar

I am just "consulting" on this one. Being the only farmer the owner knows I am it. The farming I know about, the tree stuff I don't. The owner is looking at having something for the next generation that isn't just a place for deer to hang out. The long term lease for a dollar is what the owner is looking for. The question is how long should a one dollar lease run for it to be fair on all sides.
 

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There is quite a diversity of approaches that could be applied to a challenge like that. When my dad was about 55 he convinced me that the family operation desperately needed me and one of the main objectives was reducing the amount of bush on the place. We mostly targeted the easiest parts first that could quickly start producing grass pasture since that was where the land was located. We only finished off one dozer by wearing away at the job but we did hire a couple of contractors with bigger machines for some of the biggest wood. Looking back, I’m glad that part of it was done.

The majority of what was left was a very marginal soil with unfavourable topography that had become isolated across a provincial road that was built. The economics of improving that and keeping it fenced didn’t make much sense. I did widen all of the bush and scrub trails left over from the families that settled in there in the 1930’s for firewood and fence posts but then had abandoned it on mass in the 1940’s. It was a snowmobiling paradise.

The solution on those 10 quarters was to find a family that could afford to buy it at the appraised price, accept that money as a down payment, double that price and sell them a 10 year mortgage with a 10% interest rate.
 

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In the early 80s dad cleared 5 quarters of bush, in 2 years I completely wore out a new degleman rock picker, just remember all the old fields had rocks piled on the edge and not buried, I filled up huge dugouts with rock, don’t get me started on picking roots, dad had 7 kids we all pick rocks and roots but none picked as much as I did, it definitely makes any city job look easy.
 

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We had some land cleared a couple yrs ago to take down an old abandoned yard. Knocked over about 4 acres of bush and 2 of house barns etc..
You are roughly 2100-2400/ ac to clear it into " farmland" . Quotations are required because of 3 reasons

1)That bush ate up water. Our grandfathers didnt clear 1-3 acres per year then just stop bcuz they were tired. You see willows? Leave it....

2) the amount of roots you will deal.with for 3- 85 yrs will keep you up at night come harvest time. Inevitably you will hear a missed root /stick go through the combine.

3) itsssss probably not going to ( honestly) remotely productive for 3 to 5 yrs due to.previously mentioned reasons ( low.residual fert
.. soil compaction
..lack of soil compaction lol)

Plus you are going to be covering that carrying cost of 2000$/ ac while the land appreciates and you lose money off potential earned income. What guarantee would you have that the land.doesnt get sold off in 5 or 10 yrs if the land owner croaks and their kids want to sell it?

This deal sounds absolutely phenomenal .....
....
....
..........

For the owner.

Personally I wouldnt touch this if i won the next lotto super max!!!
 

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In the early 80s dad cleared 5 quarters of bush, in 2 years I completely wore out a new degleman rock picker, just remember all the old fields had rocks piled on the edge and not buried, I filled up huge dugouts with rock, don’t get me started on picking roots, dad had 7 kids we all pick rocks and roots but none picked as much as I did, it definitely makes any city job look easy.
My dad did something very similar in the late 60s early 70s. Have to say after that I could have been anything I wanted and it would have been easy after that. I eventually wound up back farming and it has since always been more enjoyable than work. Have been doing cleanup work on an ongoing basis although now I’m running out of patches to clear.
 

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Cheaper to buy an already cleared quarter of land. life is too short for that amount of work, we did only an old pasture that took years to clean up after. maybe if you are 25 years old and are going to farm it until 70 and it is in your name only then it would make sense. fence it off let the cattle clean up the brush and just sell fire wood off of it to city folk. Just my two cents. Most of the land was opened when diesel was cheap, these are not those days.
 
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