Weekly Cattle Outlook: Storage of Beef Down and Grain Stores Limited

US - Beef in cold storage is down by almost four per cent on a year ago and acreage reports are suggesting more grain has been planted than last year, making the market confident about supply, according to Ron Plain and Scott Brown from the University of Missouri.
calendar icon 1 July 2013
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The amount of beef in cold storage at the end of May was 478.5 million pounds. That was down 6.9 per cent from the month before and down 3.9 per cent from a year ago, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown.

USDA's June acreage report estimates 97.379 million acres are planted to corn this year. That is up 97,000 acres from the March estimate and 224,000 acres more than last year. The average of pre-release trade forecasts was for 95.34 million acres of corn. Soybean acreage is put at 77.728 million, up 530,000 acres from last year and 602,000 acres more than the March estimate.

The trade forecast was for 78.024 million acres. Wheat acres are predicted to total 56.53 million, up 794,000 from last year and up 90,000 from the March estimate. The trade forecast 55.751 million acres of wheat.

USDA's June grain stocks survey found less corn, wheat, and soybeans in storage than the average of trade forecasts. The higher-than-expected acres outweighed the lower-than-expected stocks to push grain futures prices lower today.

As of June 23, 65 per cent of corn acres were rated in good or excellent condition. That is up 1 percentage point from the week before and up 9 points from a year ago. 23 per cent of U.S. pastures were rated in poor or very poor condition on June 23, down from 34 per cent poor or very poor a year ago.

Fed cattle prices were lower this week on light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $120.82/cwt, down 55 cents from last week, but up $4.33 from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $192.00/cwt this week, down $1.57 from a week ago, but up $7.85 from a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $197.52/cwt, down $2.02 from the previous Friday, but up $2.83 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is at $187.26/cwt, up 85 cents for the week. The choice-select price spread dropped $2.88 this week to $10.26/cwt.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 649,000 head, down 1.5 per cent from last week and down 0.6 per cent from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on June 15 was 853 pounds, unchanged from the week before and up 1 pound from a year ago.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices this week were $1 to $4 higher with prices for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $180, 450-500# $174-$183, 500-550# $154-$173, 550-600# $148-$163, 600-650# $143-$155, 650-700# $136-$147.25, 700-750# $130-$146.75, 750-800# $134-$142, 800-900# $130-$140.50, and 900-1000# $122.75-$133.75/cwt.

The June live cattle futures contract closed at $118.15/cwt today, down $3.10 from last week's close. The August fed cattle contract gained 42 cents from last Friday to settle at $122.02/cwt. August feeder cattle futures settled at $149.45/cwt, up $2.53 for the week. The September contract gained $2.45 from last Friday to close at $151.60/cwt.

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