(Los Angeles Times) In the last year, Prudential Financial Inc. has plowed money into lemons and avocados in Ventura County, almonds and mandarins in the Central Valley and strawberries in Santa Cruz County.

The insurance giant is just one of many players, including highly specialized investors and large pension funds, that have snapped up California farmland recently.

The buying spree has helped push farm and ranch land values to record highs, raising questions about how long the boom might last and what effect it might have on the state’s important agricultural sector.

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