Compared to last week, available offerings of yearling feeder cattle in the nation’s auction markets sold firm to 5.00 higher while direct trading remained very slow following the recent selloff on the CME cattle futures.  Steer and heifer calves traded very uneven again this week but the losses outweighed the gains by far with the overall calf trend called unevenly weak to 3.00 lower.  Cattle feeders sold finished showlists 1.00 higher at 105.00 in the Southern Plains and 107.00-108.00 up north, dressed sales gained 2.00-5.00 from 172.00-175.00 with the biggest gains seen in the predominantly dressed trade area in eastern Nebraska.  The feedlots shared some of their good fortune by loosening the reins on their feeder cattle order buyers.  Pen space is fairly limited in many areas, but cattle feeders would like to find some green yearling replacements that are currently in tight hands. Calf demand was light this past week as temperatures pushed the mercury to late summer levels and the weather patterns around the United States continue to be downright weird. 

The soaring grain market received yet another boost this past week with the release of the Supply/Demand report on Thursday which lowered the estimated planted acres of corn by 1.5 million acres from just last month’s report, due to flooding and delayed planting.  The report also noted an increase in the number of acres that will likely be abandoned due to flood damage with only 91.7 percent of the crop expected to be harvested, which means 1.9 million less acres than last year will actually be productive even though 2.5 million more acres were planted.  However, much of the highest producing areas of the Corn Belt are seeing a handsome crop with 81 percent of Iowa rated in good/excellent condition.  Many high volume feeder cattle buyers witnessed the crop progress and the flooding of the Missouri River this week as they attended Superior Livestock’s Corn Belt Classic video auction in Council Bluffs, IA with near 60,000 head on offer. 

The top selling string of cattle hailed from one of the driest parts of the country but possessed a very impressive combination of reputation, genetics, and added value - including being certified all-natural.  The Reynolds Cattle Co. sold 454 head of top quality 835 lb black-hided steers with these credentials for 140.00 without moving them from their parched 10 section ranch pasture near Hartley, Texas in the northwestern Panhandle for current delivery.  This could not exactly be considered a fire sale, even though many ranchers across the Lone Star State are being forced to market pee-wee calves (under 400 lbs) much earlier than normal in an effort to maintain their cows through extreme drought conditions.  Nationwide auction receipts continue to run much lighter than a year ago with this week’s total 19 percent less than 2010, even as Texas’ total came in 23 percent heavier than the same week a year ago.  This week’s reported auction volume included 48 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.