The Norman Transcript

Business

October 20, 2012

Stocker calves an option for wheat pasture producers

NORMAN — Cleveland County pastures are in poor shape after two years of historic drought plagued the area. Because of this, many beef producers will rely heavily on winter wheat pastures to supplement their herds this year. Producers who are able to graze out cattle on their wheat pasture as part of a dual-purpose management system need to take stock of both livestock markets and the local effects of recent and projected weather patterns.

“A year ago, fall stocker calf prices increased counter-seasonally into early December; conditions are right for similar support to stocker calf prices this fall,” said Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University livestock marketing specialist.

However, given that calf prices are already at high levels and the price of corn is sharply higher this year, Peel cautions that stocker prices may increase only slightly or hold mostly steady near current levels.

Calf prices in Oklahoma jumped as much as $10 per hundredweight during the week of Oct. 8-12, with stronger stocker demand and limited supplies both contributing factors. Feeder cattle auction volumes in Oklahoma have decreased 26 percent during the last six weeks compared to last year.

“Recent rains throughout much of Oklahoma should help to solidify stocker demand in some areas,” Peel said. “Most of the wheat has been planted and some areas may have wheat pasture available for grazing by mid-November.”

Unfortunately, most of Oklahoma’s north central, northwestern and southwestern areas received comparatively little rainfall and remain critically dry.

“Variable moisture conditions across the state means that wheat stocker demand will likely be spread out across the next few weeks as wheat pasture develops at different rates,” Peel said.

The August 2012 import total, perhaps down 10 percent from a more normal August 2011 total, suggests that the large import volumes may be over. Preliminary data for September indicates that Mexican cattle imports have and will probably continue to decrease even more sharply.

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