Southeast Rain Too Much, Too Fast For Soils

The rain that came to the Southeast last weeks ago helped to extinguish the Gatlinburg, Tenn., fires came in a gush, which was too fast to help soil moisture levels much, although it did help ponds and streams, according to a retired meteorologist.

David Salmon, who developed his own seven-day topsoil and departure-from-normal soil moisture content forecasts, said that through the end of the month, the US soil moisture outlook means things will look a little drier than they really are for mid-December.  The absolute soil moisture outlook for a drier pattern is correct – without regard to normal.

The Southeast rain also relieved some of the parched soil moisture conditions on the US Drought Monitor published weekly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

During the past 7-days, several frontal systems moved across the contiguous United States, NOAA said.  Heavy precipitation (generally 2-6 inches, locally 10 inches or more) fell from southern Texas east-northeast across the Gulf Coast states and the Tennessee Valley.




The overall effect on Southeastern cow/calf producers likely will be to encourage many to reduce herd sizes because of the lack of forage, market analysts said.

However, much of the work of reducing herd sizes has already been done, market sources said.  Seasonal sales of calves to feedlots or to backgrounders in other states takes place in the fall, and many producers likely have already sold their calves, thus reducing pressure on their pasture or forage supplies.

US forage prices have come down this year, under pressure from greatly increased supplies, but for many southeastern cow/calf producers, transportation costs may make it difficult or impossible to keep their cows.

The problem for cattle traders with a national outlook, though, will be that cow sales from this region may be spread out over a long period of time, masking the effect on the total herd size.  Many of the cows also may not go to slaughter.  They may only change states of residence.




Superior auction prices were $1 to $2 per cwt lower at an average of $110.31, down $2.20 from last week, in a range from $111.75 to $112 in the south to $109 to $111 in the north.  Cash action then got underway with a few Texas sales at $111.75 to $112 on a live basis.  Dressed-basis trading was reported at $169 to mostly $170, down $5 to $6.

Trade was grudging as sellers resisted packer bids.

The USDA’s choice cutout Thursday was $0.54 per cwt higher at $189.48, while select was off $0.30 at $171.42.  The choice/select spread widened to $18.06 from $17.22 with 113 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $131.07 per cwt, down $0.33.  This compares with Thursday’s Jan settlement at $126.60, down $0.37.