Oklahoma Wheat Pasture Idling in Neutral

Beautiful fall weather this past week was a welcome relief to wheat pasture producers. Driving around western Oklahoma the past few days confirmed two impressions for me. First, there is a lot of wheat, some ready to graze and, with the moisture we have received, there will abundant wheat pasture very soon. Secondly, it is still very wet. Every wheat field I drove past had water standing in low spots, terraces and swales. Some of the wheat has turned a bit yellow due, I suspect, to a lack of sun. With a few days of sunshine, the fields will dry and the wheat pasture will be off to the races.

Sunshine also helped kick-start feeder markets, at least for stocker calves. Though corrals are still sloppy, the weather this past week was much more favorable for receiving stockers. Oklahoma auction prices for four-weight steers were higher by $9-11/cwt. last week. Prices for steers 550 pounds and up were mostly steady with the previous week. Auction volume jumped sharply last week, up 27 percent from the same week last year. This follows the two middle weeks of October when Oklahoma auction volume was down 34 percent from the same two weeks one year ago. Total combined Oklahoma auction volume last week was up 83 percent over the prior week.

The largest Oklahoma auction runs typically occur from late October through the middle of November. Seasonally large auction runs are expected the next three weeks. However, I expect considerable stocker demand to match larger supply and most likely hold prices steady with about equal chances of moving higher or lower. With ample wheat pasture virtually assured at this point, producers may stock wheat pastures a bit heavier than usual leading to additional stocker demand in the coming weeks.

The first Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) sale of the fall season was held Thursday, October 25 in Woodward, Oklahoma. Though cattle numbers were somewhat limited, OQBN calves brought significant premiums over non-weaned, unvaccinated calves. Wet, sloppy weather this fall has shined a light on stocker calf health and OQBN sales provide an opportunity to source stocker calves less likely to have health problems.

Upcoming 2018 OQBN sales include:

  • November 6 OKC West, El Reno
  • November 7 Cherokee Sales Co, Cherokee
  • November 13 McAlester Stockyards, McAlester
  • November 14 Payne County Stockyards, Perkins
  • November 17 Blackwell Livestock, Blackwell
  • November 29 Woodward Livestock, Woodward
  • December 4 OKC West, El Reno