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Agricultural consultant speaks on wheat

A Noble Research Institute agricultural consultant, Mynah Johnson, has important opinions on whether farmers should graze out or harvest their wheat.

"As we move into 2018, it will soon be time to think about whether to pull cattle off wheat so it can be harvested for grain or to leave the cattle on the pasture through wheat graze-out," Johnson said. "One of the biggest concerns this past fall was the lack of moisture received.This will ultimately impact producers' decisions this spring, too.

"In evaluating the graze-out or wheat for grain options, a partial budget would be a useful tool. Assume you could continue with a 650-pound steer in March and take him to 800 pounds in early May. Estimated prices in Oklahoma City are $158 per hundredweight and $137 per hundredweight, respectively. Also assume 1-head per acre during the springtime period of graze-out. Ultimately, an additional $87 in revenue could be generated with graze-out wheat."

Johnson said the expected cash price for wheat in South Central Oklahoma early next June is $3.92 per bushel. Using the five-year average Oklahoma wheat yield of 29 bushels per acre, a revenue of $115 could be generated by cutting wheat for grain. Revenue is only half the picture because cost must be taken into account. With harvesting grain, you'll have the associated fungicide, weed control, combing and hauling costs to consider. With stockers, you'll still have the cost of hauling them to the auction barn.

"Taking all this into account, it appears taking the stockers through graze-out will be more advantageous by about $21 per acre," Johnson said. "However, the picture starts to change if you beat Oklahoma's five-year average yield of 29 bushels per acre. If you produce 35 bushels per acre, you could expect the same returns as grazing out cattle. Any improvements in yield will favor pulling cattle and cutting the wheat for grain. As always, keep your pencils sharp. Crunch these numbers for your own operation."

China is not a factor in U.S. beef exports yet; the latest beef trade data for November shows continued improvement beef exports.

Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, said beef exports have increased each month in 2017 for the first eleven months of the year. 

"Beef exports to the five major destinations are up for the year," he said. "Exports to Japan are up 28 percent. Second largest is South Korea, up 6 percent through November. Mexico is the third-largest beef export market, up 8 percent for the year. Five markets (the others are Hong Kong and Canada) represent 83 percent of total beef exports for the first eleven months of 2017."

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