Prices on traditional summertime grilling meats are sliding following Memorial Day, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension economist, College Station, said most meat prices experienced their standard increases as demand ramped up heading into the first summertime holiday. But one wild card – pork – could be affected in the short and long term due to market volatility related to a disease outbreak in China.
“Stores and restaurants were stocking up for several weeks leading up to the holiday, but we’re past Memorial Day and stores are restocking and restaurants are ordering,” he said. “But I would say the seasonal rally in beef cuts is done.”
Anderson said more cattle are going to market or being shipped to feedlots and slaughter activity is ramping up. Prices for fed cattle are at $115 per hundredweight, higher than this time last year. But prices have slipped $10 per hundredweight in the last 30 days.
“Ribeye prices and most steak cuts have been falling dramatically in the last several weeks,” Anderson said. “We’re past the first run of holiday buying and settling into summer prices, but it’s not long before the Fourth of July will bring another bump.”
Anderson said prices on pork and activity on pork futures has been interesting due to African swine fever in China. The highly infectious and deadly swine disease has led to a 25 percent reduction in the Chinese herd.
“The disease has boosted their hog slaughter and left a lot of questions about future supplies,” he said. “China consumes more pork than any other country. They have large cold storage supplies, but they will run out, and there is some expectation of high future prices on U.S. pork based on anticipation of more exports to China.”
But the anticipation had the reverse effect on prices as of last Friday, Anderson said.
“Buyers around the U.S. have been buying to avoid possible higher future prices,” he said. “Once supplies are already bought, it leaves a lot of uncertainty and price volatility for pork in the future.”
U.S. pork producers are expected to set another production record this year, Anderson said. Prices could increase if China begins importing U.S. pork later this year and into 2020. But prices could dip if China looks to other nations to help its pork shortage.
“As an economist, a 25 percent reduction to the herd and production should lead to higher prices there,” he said. “You should see prices on all meats go up there as consumers and prices react to rising pork prices.
“The question is, could we expect them to replace all these pork supplies via imports or other meats from other places like Brazil, Argentina or Australia? Chinese consumers may eat less because of the higher prices. There are a lot of factors in the mix and that leads to a lot of uncertainty.”
Pork bellies, the cuts that provide bacon, recently showed how volatile prices are, Anderson said. In March, pork bellies were $1.09 per pound before rising to $1.75 in April and then falling to $1.29 in May.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts
CENTRAL: Daytime high temperatures reached into the low 90s with a heat index near 100 degrees. Up to a quarter inch of rain was reported in some areas, but winds were high. Cotton and peanut farmers were able to plant some acres prior to rains. Several days of dry weather were forecast, and hay producers and others were expected to be going full speed. Warm, sunny weather and prior rainfall continued to help crop growth and health. Some areas remained relatively dry despite rains and severe storms. Farmers started harvesting wheat and oats. Wheat harvesting was in full swing in some areas, but wet conditions made it difficult and slow in others. Yields varied across the district so far. Corn began to tassel in the earlier-planted fields. Pastures were improving, and cattle were in good body condition. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture. Crop, pasture and rangeland conditions were good in most counties.
ROLLING PLAINS: Temperatures continued to rise, and conditions continued to improve. Soil moisture levels were excellent. Rangelands were flourishing as grasses were coming in behind winter annual growth. Early planted wheat was ready to harvest as soon as conditions dried, but water ponding was prevalent in most fields. Cotton and Sudan grass planting will continue as field conditions permit.
COASTAL BEND: A lack of rain, windy conditions and warmer temperatures dried out fields. Some areas reported crops were progressing and doing well, while others reported crops were stressed for moisture. Most corn fields were tasseled and silking. Cotton was taking off and looking better. Rice planting continued. Producers were spraying for weeds in cotton. Dry conditions allowed for hay to be cut with excellent yields reported. Livestock were in good condition. Some areas reported cattle numbers were increasing, and calves were gaining well.
EAST: Conditions were wet and flooding occurred in Cherokee County with some areas reporting up to 7.5 inches of rain. Parts of Trinity County were underwater because of overflow from the Trinity River with the worst flooding along its boundaries. Producers were cutting hay while the sun shined. Pasture and rangeland conditions were mostly good with Panola, Shelby and Marion counties reporting excellent conditions. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were mostly adequate with a few counties reporting surplus. Smith County was fertilizing pastures and hay meadows. Many producers were not able to get in fields due to wet conditions. Blueberry harvest in Polk County was underway with yields expected to be 40 percent to 90 percent lower this year due to a late winter freeze. Marion County producers had to replant gardens due to rain and lost plants. Wild pigs continued to cause damage. Cattle conditions were improving in Henderson County. The cattle market fell drastically in Houston County. Prices in Shelby County were good.
SOUTH PLAINS: Some South Plains counties reported receiving a lot of moisture and hail. Anywhere from 2 to 3 inches of rain made for wet conditions. Most of the cotton fields had been planted and some will need to be replanted. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat remained in fair condition. Producers continued to plant. Cattle were reported to be in good condition.
PANHANDLE: The Panhandle received rain at least every other day and high storm activity led to hail damage. Some producers caught up on cotton replants and tried to finish corn planting, while other counties put planting on a longer hold due to the moisture. Winter wheat looked good with the potential for excellent dryland yields this year, minus some wheat damaged by hail. Cooler temperatures slowed germination of cotton.
NORTH: Soil moisture was adequate to surplus in most counties. A storm downed trees and tree limbs and delivered half an inch to 2 inches of rain across the district. Conditions were very humid, but the ground was drying due to sunshine and temperatures. Some standing water remained in low areas. Some producers were beginning to cut hay, and yields looked high, but quality was expected to be below average to average. Some fieldwork was delayed by moisture. Wheat had multiple moisture-related diseases present. Winter and spring pastures were looking good, but some winter pastures were declining in higher temperatures. Some cotton was planted. The acres planted could be the only cotton in the district due to heavy rains in the forecast. Livestock were in great condition due to available forages. Horn flies continued to be a huge problem for cattle. There were reports of armyworms infestations.
FAR WEST: Temperatures ranged from the low 90s into the 50s at night. Precipitation in the region varied with some areas getting up to 4 inches of rain and other areas getting none, causing some rangeland to dry out and high winds created fire hazards. Heavy winds were reported throughout the region and many tornadoes were sighted in the northeastern areas. There were reports of damage to trees and outbuildings. Many producers were trying to get cotton in the ground while there was still some topsoil moisture in the drier parts of the region. A few producers in the northeastern areas had planted seed only to have it washed away when a strong rain passed through. Watermelons were a little behind schedule due to the lack of sun and heat. Wheat was slowly drying down. Corn and sorghum were beginning to grow. Hay producers started to get their equipment ready to go to work in the fields. Alfalfa in the far west part of the region was finally looking good after a weevil infestation came through the area. Pecans were setting a good load, but producers experienced high winds, which could damage nutlets on the trees. Pecan producers had sprayed zinc at least once; some had already sprayed twice. Pecan nut casebearers movement was documented and sprayed for as well, and the count was believed to be light enough to just thin large crops. Insect issues were starting to emerge, primarily mosquito and flies. Livestock were in good condition with rangelands providing plentiful forage and browse.
WEST CENTRAL: The week started off wet but once it dried out farmers were in the fields planting cotton or prepping for planting. Wheat harvest started in most of the district. Pastures were reported in good shape. Creeks and tanks were full. Conditions were very favorable, so livestock and wildlife should thrive this spring and summer. Livestock markets were high as not many people were selling due to the abundance of grass.
SOUTHEAST: Walker County experienced warm temperatures. Soil moisture was holding without excess additions this week. An early harvest of the first cutting of warm-season forage could occur with more frequency in the upcoming days. In Grimes County, most pastures were still in good condition, but some areas could still use another shower or two. In Lee County, hay was being cut and herbicide/fertilizer put out. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely, from excellent to poor, with good being the most common. Grimes County reported 100% fair. San Jacinto County and Montgomery County reported 100% good. Soil moisture levels throughout the Southeast region ranged from adequate to surplus, with adequate being the most common. Walker, San Jacinto and Montgomery counties reported 100% adequate.
SOUTHWEST: No rain was reported, but soil moisture conditions remained good for most counties from past rains. It was warm, humid and windy. Wheat harvest was wrapping up, and hay harvest had begun. Corn was actively growing. Cotton fields are being sprayed for weeds early due to abundant moisture. Rivers and streams were flowing well. Livestock were in good condition.
SOUTH: The northern part of the district reported warm weather conditions with short to adequate soil moisture levels. Atascosa County conditions warmed up and crops looked good overall. Wheat was cutting well and cotton was coming on as the warmer weather sped up its growth. Hay was being made. Frio County had warmer, windy temperatures with no rainfall this past week. Potato, wheat and sweet corn harvest continued and peanut planting was in full swing. Cotton was in the squaring stage of development. All crops were being irrigated due to an increase in drying conditions. Bermuda hay was being cut and baled. Pasture and range conditions were fair to good. In Live Oak County, cattle and crop conditions were good, although pasture conditions were suffering due to the hot, dry and windy weather conditions. The western part of the district had mild weather conditions with adequate soil moisture levels. Maverick County reported no rainfall and very windy days. The coastal Bermuda grass fields were already producing hay bales, either square or round. Other vegetable crop fields like watermelon and cantaloupe were already in the process of fruit development. In Zavala County, wheat harvest was very active. Producers reported average to slightly below average for wheat grown in dryland conditions. Corn, cotton and sorghum crops made good progress. Onion harvest was completed. Native range and pastures remained mostly fair to good countywide. No supplemental feeding activities were reported. Dimmit County conditions were very hot and dry. In Zapata County, hot temperatures were back. No rainfall was reported. Pastures that saw some improvement from the rains a few weeks ago were starting to dry up again. Producers started to make stocking rate decisions along with supplemental feeding. The eastern part of the district had warm weather conditions with short to adequate soil moisture levels. Jim Wells County experienced warm, dry and windy conditions. The winds robbed topsoil moisture in many areas, which was a concern, especially in late-planted fields. On the upside, hay producers had favorable conditions for harvesting. In Duval County, pasture and range conditions were looking good for both cattle and wildlife. Ranchers and deer breeders were supplementing their cattle and wildlife. Starr County reported row crops were progressing well. Range pastures continued to improve due to recent rainfall. Extreme high temperatures accompanied by high winds depleted topsoil moisture.
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