Compared to last week, feeder cattle sold with very uneven trade this week, with varying trends depending on what part of the week sales occurred, location and quality of feeder cattle.  The two larger auctions first of the week in Oklahoma City and Joplin sold calves mostly 2.00-5.00 lower, with many auctions following the same trend.

In some cases we have markets that saw a wide spectrum of prices as throughout the Plain States saw trading steady to 3.00higher, especially noted in the reported Kansas auctions.  In the Southeastern calf markets most auctions were steady to 4.00 lower.  Marketing’s for feeder cattle are slowing down and in many cases calf orders are spotty with many preferring steers over heifers. 

Quality of feeder cattle coming into the auctions is very uneven with many carrying flesh and many plainer type cattle in the offering.  The higher quality calves with a vaccination program are still being readily absorbed with good demand.  Last week’s sharp losses on the CME that were brought on by the BSE cow found in California were reclaimed on Thursday of this week as live and feeder cattle futures closed with near limit gains. 

This week’s USDA’s export sales report showed net sales of US beef up 9 percent from the previous week, 8 percent below the previous 4 week average and 2 percent more than this time a year ago at 16,800 mt which had to be reassuring to the markets for buyers of US beef going to foreign markets.  We are now into May which is the best part of the year for meat sales.  We need the consumer to be able to continue to purchase meat but demand is only as good as the amount that will be consumed by the current purchasing power of the consumer. 

Boxed beef cutouts are holding their ground as movement remains light trading at the 190.00 level on choice product as the cutout moved back to this level last week for the first time since March.  Direct slaughter cattle trade occurred Friday afternoon with live prices in Kansas steady at 120.00, Texas 1.00 higher than last week trading at 120.00 and Nebraska trading dressed sales steady at mostly 194.00, with a few regional sales at 195.00. 

Corn planting across the Midwest continued at a brisk pace with some planting being interrupted by rain.  USDA’s Crop Progress report showed that 53 percent of the corn acres had been planted.  This figure is the second highest on record next to 2010’s 68 percent.  All of the eighteen states that are used in the report are all ahead for the 5-year average at this point.  Most notable being Illinois at 79 percent planted, Indiana at 70 percent and Ohio at 57 percent planted.  Soybean planting is getting underway with 12 percent reported planted which is also well ahead of previous years.  This week’s reported auction volume included 52 percent over 600 lbs and 44 percent heifers.