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CME: Approx. 20% of Continental US in State of Severe Drought

08 August 2018

US - USDA NASS has released the "Crop Progress" report updating field conditions for major crops and seasonally - May through October - pasture and range conditions, reports Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.

All year, and certainly through the grazing season the drought monitor has shown abnormally dry conditions in the southern US west of the Mississippi River. Approximately, 20 per cent of the continental US is in a state of severe drought or worse.

The World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) uses drought indicators and 2012 Agricultural Census data to estimate the percent of agricultural production that is located in those areas. Using the drought monitor above, it estimates that 29 per cent of total hay acreage is located in these areas and 28 per cent of cattle.

In the 2012 Agricultural Census, it was estimated that there were 90 million head of cattle (all cattle and calves) compared to the latest 1 July inventory in 2018, estimating herd size at 102 million head. This map may be underestimating the number of cattle in those areas.

LMIC estimates that over 30 per cent of beef cows are in areas that are reporting more than 40 per cent of pasture and range conditions that are poor and very poor. In these areas, supplemental feeding is required to maintain herd health.

The national pasture and range condition ratings for the most recent week estimated 30 per cent of pasture and range conditions are poor and very poor condition. The Western region is facing significantly higher proportions, over 45 per cent in those conditions for the states of AZ, CA, ID, NV, NM, OR, UT, and WA. The Southern Plains (TX and OK) are facing similar situation, and this week are listed as 42 per cent of pasture and range conditions are poor to very poor.

Beef cow slaughter has been running higher all year, up 11 per cent year-to-date, but its difficult to assess how much of that is drought induced culling. USDA NASS monthly slaughter data shows cow weights dipped below a year ago in the month of June by 4 pounds.

The previous five months cow weights averaged slightly higher than the prior year. There have been some reports of culling related to drought, but the data is not definitively pointing in that direction at this time.

Further Reading

You can view the Crop Progress report by clicking here.

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