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USDA Market Reports

Feeder Cattle Review: Beef sales pick up for retailers

Compared to last week, yearling feeder cattle sold mostly steady to 5.00 higher with instances 6.00-8.00 higher. Direct trade was mostly 4.00-7.00 higher, regaining most of last week’s losses. Some of the sharpest gains were noted on heavy feeders weighing over 800 lbs. Feeder calves started the week steady to 5.00 lower then by mid-week turning mostly steady to spots 5.00 higher where calves were available. Discounts continue in many cases on fleshy unweaned bawlers mostly weighing under 500 lbs that tend to melt in the hot sun. A higher auction market for yearlings with prices stronger than many expected, after last week’s lower trends seen around the auction circuit.

Markets

Cattle Outlook: Cattle slaughter up this week

USDA's April cattle on feed report said the number of steers on feed was up 5.4% at the start of April while the number of heifers in large feedlots was down 10.1%. That gap of 15.5 points is the largest since October 2005. The number of heifers on feed, 3.342 million, was only 44.8% of the number of steers on feed, 7.455 million. This is the first time the heifer/steer ratio has been under 50% since USDA started this data series in 2001. Both percentages are obvious indications of aggressive heifer retention and upcoming herd growth.

Markets

Soy complex turns lower Friday afternoon

Fine planting weather depressed corn futures again Friday. One might blame a portion of Friday’s corn weakness on the rebounding U.S. dollar, but resurgent equity indexes seemingly made that less likely. It’s much more probable that forecasts continually pointing to conditions conducive to rapid corn planting and a good emergence during early May undercut the crop markets. July corn futures dropped 3.25 cents to $3.63/bushel at Friday’s close, while December lost 3.25 to $3.8025.

Industry

Policy Pennings: China imports to meet soybean needs but produces its own corn, wheat and rice

With a population of 1.3 billion and counting and a small agricultural area relative to its large population, China is repeatedly the hope for an export-led prosperity for grain and oilseed farmers in the major agricultural exporting nations. Early in the twentieth century, as the US was suffering from a long-period of low cotton prices, it was suggested that if every person in China were to lengthen the shirt they wear by just an inch, the US cotton surplus would disappear and cotton would once again be profitable. It did not happen and low prices continued to plague cotton-belt farmers.

Pasture and Rangeland

Cattle transitioning to wheat require acclimation period

One scenario that producers may be faced with in cool-season stocker cattle production is whether or not to continue grazing with a set of cattle through graze-out or to sell these cattle and replace them with lighter calves. An observation that has been made when turning cattle out on lush wheat pastures is that a transition occurs in which cattle may only maintain or even lose weight for a period of time.

Industry

Natural gas prices decreasing

Cooler temperatures this week had a minimal effect on prices, which moved down at most market locations. The East in particular saw unusually cold weather, stoking gas demand in the residential and commercial sectors, yet prices still declined slightly.

Markets

Wheat futures under pressure Friday at midday

Fine planting weather is still depressing corn futures. One might blame a portion of Friday’s early corn weakness on the rebounding U.S. dollar, but resurgent equity indexes seemingly make that less likely. It’s much more probable that forecasts continue pointing to conditions conducive to rapid corn planting and a good emergence during early May. July corn futures dropped 4.75 cents to $3.615/bushel around midsession Friday, while December lost 5.0 to $3.785.

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