Though cussing the rain is near sacrilege, atypically abundant moisture is making the sledding tougher for some stocker operators.
In the Southeast, for instance, where accumulated rainfall the past two months has been 4-5 times more than normal, working cattle is more physically challenging. Swampy, soupy conditions make it tougher to get the health straightened out, too. Perhaps most vexing, though, is that it’s been impossible for some to plant the cool-season annuals they rely upon.
Writing in a recent issue of In the Cattle Markets, John Anderson and John Michael Riley, Mississippi State University ag economists, explain, “This fall’s weather has, at best, significantly shortened the winter annual grazing season for many producers in the South (see also “Winter Wheat Pasture Challenged By Weather”).”
On the other hand, Anderson and Riley note that fall pasture and hay are abundant. Moreover, they explain, “Commodity feeds will be widely available in many areas, as grain that’s too damaged for delivery to elevators is sold as livestock feed for salvage prices. This will be the fate of large quantities of soybeans in the Mid-South. Cattlemen will need to brush up on some basic management points before taking advantage of this feedstuff, including acceptable inclusion rates and any feeding restrictions related to pesticide (especially fungicide) applications.”
For the week ending Nov. 1, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:
Corn – 94% of the acreage has reached maturity, 4% behind last year and 5% behind the five-year average. The most significant delay was evident in North Dakota where crop maturity was 34 points, or over 1 month behind normal. 25% is harvested, 28% less than a year ago and 46% behind average – one month behind. Harvest delays of three weeks or more were evident in the six largest corn-producing states, with progress in Illinois more than five weeks behind normal. 67% is reported Good to Excellent, 3% more than a year ago. Conditions in unharvested corn fields throughout the Great Plains, Corn Belt and Great Lakes continued to deteriorate as reports of unfavorably high moisture levels and mold were reported.
Soybeans – 51% has been harvested, 34% behind last year and 36% behind average – more than three weeks. Persistent rainfall and mostly below-average temps across much of the growing region have caused harvest delays in all 18 major soybean-producing states, except North Carolina. 63% is rated as Good to Excellent, which is 2% less than at the previous week. The most significant decline in condition was evident in Wisconsin where continued excess moisture led to bursting pods and mold development.
Winter wheat – 79% has been seeded, which is 9 points behind last year and 11% behind the average. In Arkansas, rainfall in excess of 5 in. across much of the growing region halted fieldwork, prohibiting any winter-wheat seeding during the week. Elsewhere, dry conditions allowed producers in California to seed 12% of their intended acreage during the week. 64% has emerged, 10% behind last year, and 11% behind normal. Emergence was most rapid in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana where adequate soil moisture and above average temps provided ideal conditions for seed germination. 64% is rated as Good to Excellent, which is 3% less than the same time last year.
Sorghum – 83% has reached maturity, 6% behind last year and 10% behind the average. The most significant delay was evident in Texas where abnormally cool temps during the past few weeks left overall progress 17 points, or over 1 month, behind normal. 45% is in the bin, 10% less than last year and 23% less than average. The harvest pace remained slow in Texas as producers waited for the crop in the High Plains to fully mature. 47% is rated Good to Excellent, 6% less than the same time a year ago.