Texas Field Reports: Beef Prices Decline as Supplies Increase

    Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Adam Russell

    The beef cattle market has slowed recently due to increased production and decreased demand following a tremendous spring rally, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

    Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist, College Station, said domestic and export demand had been high but that fed-cattle prices had fallen over the last couple of weeks, as domestic demand slowed during the “dog days of summer.”

    “Fed cattle prices were at $1.17 per pound, down from over $1.30 per pound a month ago,” he said. “We’ve gotten past the springtime holiday boom that typically occurs between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. There’s no special occasion right now, and the hot temperatures have people thinking twice about being outside next to a grill.”

    Anderson said many grocers featured beef specials through May, June and July to draw consumers. Earlier-than-usual orders from grocers for slaughtered beef led to a price rally as supplies tightened.

    “Now supplies are growing and demand is lower,” he said. “Cattle weights are climbing, and there are an increased number of cattle on feed. We expect some buying leading up to Labor Day, so we have to hope for enough demand to buy up that increased supply.”

    Anderson said more beef was expected to be produced this year compared to 2016 and that higher production numbers were likely a long-term trend. This could drive beef prices lower if domestic and export demands don’t keep up with supplies.

    Prices typically rise seasonally in the fall, Anderson said. Last year, beef supplies were high, but higher-than-usual export demands helped keep prices steady.

    Export demand in Japan had been high, but orders could decline as the country recently announced it would increase the import tariff on all frozen U.S. beef.

    “That makes U.S. beef a little more expensive and could mean Japanese consumers will look for an alternative,” he said.

    Anderson said domestic orders for Labor Day should begin over the next few weeks and producers and retailers are hoping demands increase over the holiday.

    AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

    CENTRAL: Corn and sorghum were harvested for silage and produced good yields. Hay was cut and baled. Cotton continued to look good. Brush control was active. High temperatures and lack of moisture took a toll on grass for livestock. Irrigated hay fields were showing signs of stress. Livestock on pastures were in fair to good shape. Tank water levels were dropping. Most counties reported good soil moisture. Overall, livestock, crop, rangeland and pasture conditions were good.

    ROLLING PLAINS: Temperatures reached beyond 100 degrees, and one county reported a high temperature of 109. There was concern among producers about inadequate topsoil moisture and extremely arid conditions.

    Sorghum production was affected by hot weather but a good rain should revive it. One county reported 1.5 inches of rain, but it fell so heavily that most of the rain was not absorbed. Cotton fleahoppers were being sprayed. Cotton and rangelands were still looking good but could really use rain. Livestock were in good condition. Cooler weather and moisture was in the forecast.

    COASTAL BEND: The weather was hot but dry, making it favorable for producers to get into fields for harvesting activities. Corn and sorghum harvests were near completion. Many cotton fields were defoliated, and gins were receiving modules. Some reported cotton yields were good. Weed spraying ceased in some areas due to very dry conditions.

    Rangeland and pasture conditions were declining rapidly due to extremely dry weather. Supplemental feeding of livestock began in some areas, and livestock continued to do well.

    EAST: No report.

    SOUTH PLAINS: Irrigation continued in full swing. Moisture was needed for area crops. Good chances of rain were in the forecast. Most cotton was blooming. Some corn fields reached the dent stage. Sorghum varied from vegetative to grain-fill stages. Producers were monitoring headworms and sugarcane aphids. Pastures and rangeland were in fair condition.

    PANHANDLE: Conditions were hot and dry. Some moisture was received, but more was needed throughout the district. Soil moisture levels were mostly adequate to short. All irrigated fields were being watered. Rangeland and pastures were beginning to dry down. Corn was tasseling. Cotton was squaring, and sorghum was at boot stage.

    NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranged from mostly adequate to short, with a few counties reporting surplus. Most counties received no rain with the exception of Cooke County, which received 0.5 of an inch to 3 inches. Temperatures were hot, reaching close to 100 degrees for several days.

    Pastures were starting to dry out and crack, and summer grasses were beginning to weaken. Hay producers were busy trying to catch up after wet weather conditions in early July delayed harvesting.

    Corn and soybean crops were doing well, and some corn was put into silage. Sorghum continued to look good and cotton was doing well. Armyworms were reported in a few counties. Livestock were in good condition, and spring-born calves were doing well other than dealing with the very hot daytime temperatures and humidity.

    FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the 90s with lows in the 70s. Heavy rains averaged up to 2 inches in some areas. Alfalfa farmers were impacted negatively by the rain. Cotton farmers were having difficulty accessing fields due to muddy conditions. Despite rains, irrigation continued.

    In Glasscock County, cotton bolls should shed without moisture soon. Sorghum and corn harvests should start shortly, and most yields will likely be average to a little below. Pecans looked good and watermelon harvests were decent, with a few fields still being picked. Producers continued to feed livestock and wildlife. Kid goats and non-keeper nannies were shipped.

    WEST CENTRAL: Seasonably hot, dry conditions continued. Triple-digit temperatures were normal. Some scattered isolated showers were reported in a few areas, but the heat dried everything up again quickly. Extreme heat was depleting soil moisture in all areas. Rain was in the forecast for the next reporting period with cooler temperatures expected.

    Many crops and forages were showing heat and drought stress. Corn was mature and should be harvested soon. Some hay cutting and baling continued. Hay reports were good. Most haygrazer fields were cut and baled. Bermuda producers were getting bales out of their pastures as well. Hot, dry temperatures have led to prussic acid concerns.

    Most cotton was in fair condition, but will need moisture soon. Late-planted cotton was not looking good. Wind and storm damage left some acreage with thin stands. Grain sorghum was in good condition and maturing quickly. Some sorghum was harvested, but most fields were expected to be ready in the next 10 days. Some sugarcane aphid damage was reported. Producers were treating as necessary.

    Rangeland and pasture conditions remained fair to good and were holding up, but moisture was needed. Some grasses showed signs of heat stress. Livestock remained in fair to mostly good condition. Cattle demand at auction was good with an active market. Pecan crops remained good, but there was some nut drop due to extreme heat.

    SOUTHEAST: The rice harvest in Chambers County was expected to pick up soon. Weather was hot and humid. Some hay was baled. Livestock and pastures were in good condition. Sorghum producers were nearing completion of harvest with yields ranging from 5,000-7,500 pounds per acre. Corn was doing well with yields ranging from 115-170 bushels per acre.

    Cotton was starting to open, and some producers were expected to begin conditioning cotton soon and defoliating in the next two weeks. Pasture and livestock conditions looked good. Soil moisture levels throughout the district ranged widely from adequate to very short with most ratings in the short range.

    SOUTHWEST: Weather patterns continued to be hot and dry throughout the district. Rangeland conditions were deteriorating but available forages were surprisingly ample. Corn and sorghum harvests were in full swing with average yields reported. Livestock conditions remained fair to good.

    SOUTH: Conditions throughout the district were very hot, dry and windy. Temperatures were well over 100 degrees in some areas. Most counties reported drought conditions, but crops were doing well. Some counties reported rain. Live Oak County received 1-2 inches of rain. Corn harvests in Frio County were completed and nearing completion in other areas. Yield reports for corn and grain sorghum were not as good as anticipated.

    Cotton bolls there were starting to open on early planted cotton, and peanut fields were in the runner stage and under irrigation. Pasture and rangeland conditions were poor due to excessive heat and lack of rainfall, but some rangelands benefitted from scattered showers. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued in some areas.

    Body condition scores on cattle were declining some, but most herds remained in fair condition. Beef producers were providing protein supplements to cattle. There were fewer cattle in the live-cattle market, but prices remained steady.

    Soil moisture levels improved in areas that received rain. Rain was expected soon so farmers were attempting to harvest as much cotton as possible. Maverick County producers still had some watermelons and cantaloupes in irrigated fields. Pecans progressed well, as producers busily supplied irrigation water. Vegetable producers were busy preparing fields for planting.

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