Oklahoma Wheat Pasture Prospects Cut By Dry September

Last week, Oklahoma got that “million-dollar rain” grazers needed to get winter wheat growing to provide winter grazing for purchased or retained calves.

Paul Beck, Oklahoma State University State Extension beef nutrition specialist, said in a newsletter to Extension agents called Cow-Calf Corner that timing is critical and any delay can have large effects on forage production, Beck.

“We are already 40 to 50 days delayed in planting our grazeout wheat acres and 30 days delayed in planting our dual-purpose wheat, which will limit our forage production potential this fall and winter,” Beck said.

Over the last few weeks, farmers planted aggressively ahead of predicted rain, he said.  Producers who planted ahead of the saw germination, but if it was planted after the rain, planting likely was delayed until it was dry enough to get across the fields again.

The goal should be to stock calves on wheat pasture during the fall and winter so they have five pounds of forage dry matter per pound of calf bodyweight, Beck said.  So, a 500-pound calf should have 2,500 pounds of forage dry matter available at turnout.

That forage allowance will maximize steer weight gains over the fall and winter, he said.  But even at three to 3.5 pounds of forage per pound of steer bodyweight, gains of two pounds per day have been recorded.




A good rule-of-thumb is wheat forage has about 200 pounds of dry matter per inch of height, so for two acres per steer stocking rate, pastures should be six to eight inches tall at turnout, Beck said.  If pastures are only four to five inches tall, three acres per steer would be needed to meet the goal, or supplemental feed would be needed.

So, what are the chances of getting any pasture this fall and winter?  Brett Carver, plant and soils scientist, conducted research several years ago indicating that wheat growth averaged 3.3 pounds per acre per growing degree day through the fall.  A growing degree day is the accumulated heat units above a growth threshold temperature (42°F for wheat) and is calculated by the average daily temperature – 42 times the number of days.

Wheat that was up before this latest rain, has the potential to reach 1,000 pounds of forage dry matter per acre by Thanksgiving, given normal daily temperatures through November.  Wheat that was dusted in ahead of these storms probably will be delayed or have less forage production by a week or 10 days.




The USDA reported formula and contract base prices for live FOB steers and heifers this week ranged from $123.12 to $124.69 per cwt, compared with the previous week’s range of $123.39 to $125.00.  FOB dressed steers and heifers went for $193.39 to $196.04 per cwt, versus $193.61 to $196.03.

The USDA choice cutout Wednesday was down $1.05 per cwt at $280.02, while select was off $2.65 at $258.70.  The choice/select spread widened to $21.32 from $19.72 with 121 loads of fabricated product and 50 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.

The USDA reported Wednesday that basis bids for corn from livestock feeding operations in the Southern Plains were unchanged at $1.10 to $1.20 a bushel over the Dec futures and for southwest Kansas were unchanged at $0.40 over Dec, which settled at $5.12 1/4 a bushel, down $0.10 1/4.

No contracts were tendered for delivery Wednesday against the Oct live cattle contract.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $154.26 per cwt up $0.11.  This compares with Wednesday’s Oct contract settlement of $157.65 per cwt, down $0.92.