TODAY ON AGDAY
DECEMBER 8, 2011
TEXAS HERD CURL:
Good morning. Texas is known for its big sky's and massive herds of cattle.
But come 2012 those herds are going to be noticeably smaller. New numbers show drought has reduced that state's cow herd by some 600,000 head. That tops our beef today report. The 12% drop is the second largest in the state's history and biggest since the dust bowl years of 1934 and 1935. Many producers couldn't find hay or pasture for hungry cattle. That forced ranchers to sell out or pick through the bunch in heavy culling. Many cows headed for slaughter. Economists at Texas A&M say the reductions across the southern plains will lead to strong 2012 prices. David Anderson, an agri-life extension livestock economist, predicts six hundred pound steers will sell between $1.33 and $1.43 dollars per hundred by the end of next year.
Nationally beef production is forecast to be four percent lower in 2012.
Cattle prices are already holding steady. Economists in Missouri say live cattle averaged a sale price of $127.90. That's up three dollars from the previous week and a new record for the area. Chicago live cattle futures are trading in the 120 dollar range.
From the packer perspective, better beef is paying off. The price gap between select grade boxed beef and choice continues to widen. It's currently in the 18 dollar range...down slightly from recent highs. But, that's still more than 60% higher than a year ago.
The nation's fourth largest beef packer has a new owner. Kansas City based national beef, sold a 79% stake in the company for nearly 900- million dollars. The new owners, New York based--Leucadia National Corporation is an investment company. National beef says operations and management will remain unchanged. You can get many more updates on the beef industry, including market and production information from our partners at www.beeftoday.com.
When the Oklahoma "NASS" office released its last crop progress report for the season, it showed the winter wheat crop in good shape thanks to timely fall rains. About half of the crop was called good. 7% is excellent. And now the weed battle is on. One of the biggest foes is Italian ryegrass. Lyndall Stout from Oklahoma State's Sun-Up talks with the states' weed warrior about this challenge. Weed specialists tell us that ranchers who had to ship-in hay because of drought need to be vigilant about scouting for invasive weeds. They said weed seeds can hitch-hike on imported hay. What might be considered a desirable plant in some areas may be a weed in another.
Moving from weed pressure to insect pressure, Midwest corn growers will have a new tool in the arsenal next season to battle ear-worms. And it should reduce refuge concerns. Monsanto is offering Genuity VT double pro rib complete for the 2012 growing season. It has a 5% refuge already in the bag. The trait is for above-ground insects. We talked to an Illinois farmer who says it'll take-out the guess work. Monsanto says customers who already booked Genuity VT double pro products will get switched to the "rib" product at no additional cost. Because of BT use in cotton, southern corn growers do not have 'rib' products available.
In agribusiness input costs are always of concern to the nation's producers.
New information from the energy information administration says gas prices should remain constant through the spring. The EIA expects regular grade gas to hold steady or possibly lower than its current national average of $3.38 per gallon. That's about fifty cents lower than it was in May. It also says a warm start to winter will keep the costs of heating fuels down but still between 5-8% higher than last winter. Natural gas and electricity costs are also forecast lower by a couple percent.