Texas Crop and Weather Report — Oct. 4

Beef prices likely to stay low

  • Writer: Adam Russell, 903-834-6191, adam.russell@ag.tamu.edu
  • Contact: Dr. David Anderson, 979-845-4351, danderson@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – Beef cattle prices will likely continue to decline as a result of herd expansion by producers and other market conditions, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist in College Station.

Dr. David Anderson said he expects the long-term trend of lower cattle prices to continue into 2017.

Anderson said there could be an uptick in fed-cattle prices during the fall, which is typical especially around the holidays when specific cuts are in higher demand, but the highest prices for the year are behind producers.

“Producers have held back more heifers looking to expand herds, and we’re seeing the effects of more cattle,” he said.

Cash prices on fed cattle last week were around $1.04 per pound compared to $1.20 per pound at the same time last year and the five-year average of $1.25 per pound, he said.

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Dr. David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist, said he expects the long-term trend of lower cattle prices to continue into 2017. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

Beef production is up almost 5 percent for the nation this year, Anderson said, which also drives prices lower. Heifer slaughter in the last two months is up 18 percent compared to 2015, and steer slaughter is up 9 percent compared to 2015.

Anderson said the lower beef prices weren’t atypical among meat producers in general. The first half of 2016 saw a record amount of pork, poultry, turkey and beef produced in the U.S., which translated into lower prices across the board.

“That was weighing prices down some because consumers had more choices,” he said. “There’s also less processing capacity to handle higher numbers of cattle, so I think that is contributing to the overall decline in prices as well.”

Good available forage and lower feed prices are helping offset prices in the calf market, Anderson said. Atypical August rains have range and pasturelands in good shape, and Texas produced record corn and sorghum crops which could impact the market as well.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL: Armyworms were reported all over the district. Small grain preparation and planting was ongoing, however, many producers were planting later to try to avoid armyworm damage. Winter wheat pasture planting was ongoing as well. Winter wheat for grazing was emerging. Producers were getting one more cutting of hay. Livestock were in good condition. Producers started harvesting cotton and beans again. Cotton harvest should wrap up in the next couple of weeks. A few fields of corn and grain sorghum remain. Pasture conditions were good but declining with cooler nighttime temperatures. Stock tanks were full, and cattle were in excellent body condition. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture. Most reported good overall crop conditions.

ROLLING PLAINS: Cooler weather prevailed, however, temperatures began to warm up. Rainfall of 2.5-6 inches was reported in some counties. Cotton farmers were hoping for warmer weather to finish out cotton fields. Recent moisture gave producers an opportunity to get wheat fields planted, and the majority of acres planted was up and looked good. However, armyworms were reported in wheat and fertilized Bermuda fields. Canola planting was about done with good stands. Livestock were in excellent condition as pastures have responded to the rains.

COASTAL BEND: Good rainfall was reported in some areas. Some producers reported sandy soils were drying out. Pastures and yards showed signs of moisture stress. However, most loam and clay soils were still holding adequate moisture. Growers were catching up on fieldwork, and field cultivators were active. The cotton harvest continued. Most growers have cotton stalks sprayed or plowed out. Wharton County reported failed soybean acres due to 40-plus consecutive days of rain. Winter pasture planting continued. Armyworms plagued pastures and caused some losses, but for the most part pastures were in good condition. Cattle continued to thrive on surplus grass.

EAST: Growing conditions worsened slightly around the district due to decreased moisture and cooler nights. Conditions were extremely dry. Gregg County reported topsoil conditions as very short while other counties reported conditions as mostly adequate. Pond levels started to drop. Disease issues on lawns and gardens were reported. Homeowners winterized their lawns. Producers finished cutting hay in Wood County. Trinity County received a few showers but not enough to change moisture levels. Hay was curing slowly and gathered a lot of moisture on cool nights. Many producers were still purchasing hay from out of county. Winter pasture establishment was underway. With the favorable conditions, Polk County producers were busy with fall agriculture chores including weaning calves, shredding pastures, fencing, and preparing to plant ryegrass and clover. Armyworm infestations were reported, though reports were down in Wood County. Fly numbers were on the rise in Houston County. Wild pigs were active. Pasture and range conditions were good. Livestock were in fair to good condition with good grazing conditions. Cattle prices were lower. Head-count increased at sale barn as expected with spring calf crop being sold.

SOUTH PLAINS: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels were adequate. Producers continued harvesting corn and started digging peanuts. Cotton was finishing out, and sorghum continued to mature. Cattle looked good, and pastures and rangeland were in good condition as well. Field activities included late season weed control, cotton defoliation and harvesting of grain crops. Wheat planting was underway, and cotton damaged by hail last week did not look good at all. Crops in Yoakum County looked good.

PANHANDLE: Temperatures were slightly above average for this time of year. Soil moisture was mostly adequate. Deaf Smith County producers harvested corn for grain and silage. Corn harvests started, and some producers said yields were 20-40 percent lower than last year. Grain sorghum harvests began, however, planes were being used to control sugarcane aphids. The winter wheat crop was being planted quickly, and some early planted dryland fields were already up. The area cotton crop was all over the board with fields showing open bolls to still blooming. Warm weather was good for cotton and peanut crops. Beans were harvested. Some wheat was being planted behind corn and soybeans. Rangeland and pastures rated mostly fair to good. Cattle were in good condition.

NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels varied from very short to adequate. There were reports of 2-plus inches of rain in some areas. Temperatures dropped into the 70s. The cotton harvest was underway. Soybean harvests continued with average yields. Pastures were getting short and looked fair to good with the exception of those hit by armyworms. Hay producers were working on the last cutting of hay. Cattle were mostly in excellent condition. There were numerous reports of the white woolly Asian aphids.

FAR WEST: Temperatures were mostly in the low 8os with a below-average drop to 50 degrees with the arrival of a cold front and precipitation. Rain amounts ranged up to 3 inches in some areas. Rangeland grasses were showing improvement.  Winter wheat planting was wrapping up, and some already emerged. Farmers were harvesting pumpkins and preparing for pecan harvests. The cotton harvest continued at a very slow pace. Producers were contending with regrowth. Supplemental feeding of livestock and wildlife continued. Ranchers began working livestock. Weaning weights and stocker cattle were very good. Bred cows were also good. Mosquitos and flies were spread throughout the district.

WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures cooled down. Significant rainfall was reported in many counties. Little-to-no field activity occurred due to wet conditions. Preparations for fall planting should resume as fields dry out. Crop and pasture conditions continued to improve. Cotton crops were in good to excellent condition with bolls beginning to open and harvest expected to begin in two to three weeks. Grain sorghum harvest neared completion but was delayed due to rain. Early wheat planting was underway where fields permitted. Armyworm problems increased in Bermuda grass and small grains, and producers were spraying. Sugarcane aphids were a problem also. Range and pasture conditions remained fair to good. Livestock remained in fair to good condition as well. Cattle prices were holding steady. The pecan crop looked very good. Forecasts for prices were very good as well. Walnut caterpillars were reported on some pecan trees.

SOUTHEAST: Producers cut and baled hay. A cold front moved in, and there was very little humidity in the air. Temperatures were fair, and skies stayed clear. Pastures and fields looked good. Fields were drying. Soil moisture levels ranged from adequate to surplus, with most in the adequate range.

SOUTHWEST: Hay harvests slowed down after recent rains, and armyworm numbers continued to rise in some areas. Pastures looked good as cooler temperatures continued. Topsoil moisture conditions remained good, and forage was starting to improve. Some farmers were ready to start planting winter crops.

SOUTH: Good to fair weather conditions continued. Scattered rainfall was received, and range and pastures continued to improve in some areas. Rain amounts ranged from zero to 6 inches. The river in Nueces County crested due to rains north of the county, and local flooding along the river and riparian zones was reported. Ponds filled where heavy rains fell. Daytime temperatures were in the 90s and the 70s at night. Soil moisture levels remained good to fair in most areas and short to very short in some areas. Topsoil moisture declined in some areas. Crop, weather, rangeland and pasture conditions were fair to very good. Temperatures were mild to cooler with scattered rainfall in some areas. Cotton harvesting continued. The peanut crop was in the pod-fill stage and a couple of weeks from harvest. Most row-crop producers were plowing fields and preparing for winter crop planting. Wheat and oat planting was in full swing, and some Bermuda grass hay was cut and baled. Dove hunting was good throughout the district. Summer perennial grasses made good progress. Fall armyworm activity was present in some improved pastures. Body condition scores on cattle remained good, and fall cattle roundups took place including weaning calves. The number of cattle at auctions increased, and the market had a small positive change. Wildlife populations remained in good shape, and hunters were getting their leases ready for hunting season. Spinach and cabbage producers were busy applying irrigation to crops.  Pecans were doing very well as shucks began to open.

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