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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

News On Grains

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Years ago, around branding time, I would ask for bids for the winter cattle cake and creep feed. I realized I was shaking the dice buying grains any time of the year, but I figured buying just after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their spring planting acre numbers, prices may be cheaper than in the late fall, and it gave the folks bidding a chance to hopefully lock in some good prices. 

I wanted a 30 percent protein with high total digestible nutrients. Hopefully, this would stop someone from dumping some of the poor sunflower meal on me.

Recently, the USDA released its 80th Crop Progress Report. This report looks at the progress and condition of various crops on a national scale, state by state.

As of May 22, the report showed corn planted was at 72 percent, compared with 79 percent for the previous five-year average. It also showed of the corn planted, 39 percent has emerged, compared with 51 percent for the previous five-year average.  

Those figures reflect just how much the weather impacted the Corn Belt this spring. Planting percentages can only be lower in the Intermountain West where it is still cold. 

The report did say where it is dry, conditions are improving in the Corn Belt. We have to remember just 18 states together make up more than 90 percent of the total corn acreage.

In the report, roughly 50 percent of soybeans had been planted, but this figure jumps higher, and in some areas of the U.S., doubles with every week. 

Spring wheat planted was reported at 49 percent, compared with 83 percent for the prior five-year average. Twenty-nine percent has emerged, compared with 50 percent for the previous five-year average.

Winter wheat headed came in at 63 percent emerged, versus the 65 percent five-year average. The winter wheat condition came in at 38 percent good to excellent and 40 percent poor to very poor.

Oats planted was reported at 77 percent, compared to the five-year average of 90 percent, and 58 percent of oats had emerged as of May 22, compared with 74 percent for the previous five-year average. Oats condition was 45 percent good to excellent and 26 percent poor to very poor. This compares to the previous year average of 53 percent good to excellent and 14 percent poor to very poor.

While it is good to be aware of these figures, the elephant in the room is the current war in Ukraine limiting crop production and exportation through the Black Sea for Ukraine and Russia. Be aware these two countries usually raise around 25 percent of the world’s corn, wheat and oats. 

Demand for U.S. exports and corn for ethanol is boosted by these supply disruptions caused by the war. The cash price for corn is expected to be at a near record. The war is also restricting Ukrainian sunflower oil exports, which will drive up the vegetable oil prices worldwide.

Severe production losses in South America are also boosting U.S. exports for soybeans.

All of these percentages point to higher feeding cost for hogs, lamb and cattle, and this means meat prices at the grocery store will stay high. We hope with the lower numbers of cattle in the U.S., ranchers will make more money soon.

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