NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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September 26, 2011 Agriculture Column


Well, it happened at our home last week, a frost that left scrapping ice on the pickup window.  The strange thing is that it did not freeze any part of my garden again.  How cucumbers and tomatoes can escape that hard of a freeze I can not answer.  I was out checking soybeans last Friday and was pleasantly surprised.  The later planted beans that were in the early R6 stage appear to have formed beans.  The pods and fields I checked (there will be others that may not be as far along) but I am thinking the last field I checked was nearly the last planted field in the county will make soybeans.  The beans will be smaller and test weight will be less but the plants I picked are now drying in my office and the seeds are looking just fine.  As we harvest these beans (beans with green color) remember to only put those beans on natural air, DO NOT DRY.  Natural air drying allows the beans to turn color where drying does not.  Dried green beans will remain green, leaving the gap for discounts.


High time for heifers

Tom Brink heads up risk-management programs for Five Rivers, the nation’s largest cattle-feeding company with 12 feedayards in seven states, with a one-time capacity of over 960,000 head. He listed “10 good reasons to expose more heifers during the next few years.”

1.     The U. S. cow herd continues to shrink. During the week ending September 17, cow and bull slaughter reached its highest weekly total since 2001. JBS expects total U.S. beef output during 2012 to drop almost 5 percent from 2010 levels. “It’s nice to own a scarce commodity,” Brink says.

2.     Drought in the Southern Plains eventually will end. Severe conditions have pushed year-to-date cow slaughter in the region 19 percent higher than last year. When rains return, the region will shift from “cows and no grass” to “grass and no cows.”

3.     Beef demand is rising. Domestic wholesale beef spending this year is up 11.8 percent, with domestic spending up 8.7 percent and export spending up 43.8 percent over last year.

4.     Beef exports are growing rapidly. Our beef exports are up 139 percent year to date, and increases are likely to continue as incomes grow in key export markets.

5.     Calf prices are at record highs and likely headed even higher. Brink says his company does not expect any decline in calf values over the next few years.

6.     Bred heifers now are trading at premiums to bred cows, in spite of widespread drought and the trend toward liquidation.

7.     Excellent, well-proven estrus synchronization programs are available for breeding heifers. These programs are price- competitive with natural service and allow significant upgrades in genetics.

8.     “Heifer bull” semen is widely available from proven sires offering low birth weights and good weaning and yearling weight EPDs.

9.     Increased availability of byproduct feeds in many parts of the country can help control feed costs.  Brink notes that Midwestern stocker operators are purchasing calves at fall lows and wintering them on forage and byproducts such as distillers’ grains, rather than purchasing at spring green-up. Producers could do the same with heifers.

10.   The timing seems right. “Heifers bred in the next few years should be the most profitable cows we’ve seen in many years.”

Brink adds two notes of caution:

1.     Make sure you have a competitive cost structure – lower than average cow costs, above-average reproduction rates and weaning weights.

2.     Make sure you are raising a highly marketable calf. Brink says Five Rivers managers prefer calves with 50 to 75 percent British influence, 25 to 50 percent Continental and up to 25 percent other breeds.


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