For the week, feeder cattle prices at Texas auctions covered by USDA Market News were mostly steady to $4 higher per hundredweight (cwt). Texas direct feeder sales were steady to $1 higher and Oklahoma City was $1 to $4 higher on feeder cattle and steady to $8 lower on calves with steers posting the biggest losses. Fed cattle cash prices surged to a new record high $129 per cwt. on more than 16,000 head. Higher wholesale beef prices allowed packers to increase bids for the available cattle. [However, those higher beef prices have not translated into a healthier bottom line for packers as beef increases have not kept up with rising input costs. Reports early this week indicated that packer margins slipped deeper into the red last week in spite of those higher boxed beef values, with losses near $80 per head.] The head count was still well below year-ago levels, but higher than in the past several weeks.
Cotton cash prices ended the week higher after the weekly export sales report showed net purchases of 108,000 bales, which was an improvement over the cancellations and negative sales of the previous weeks. Corn and grain sorghum prices were higher on continued tight domestic supplies and a new export sale to South Korea. Wheat prices increased after a sale to Egypt and news of possible export restrictions by the Ukraine. As for futures markets, feeder cattle, fed cattle, cotton, wheat and corn were higher, while lumber was lower.
Most of the state except for parts of far west Texas recorded precipitation during the week, with the heaviest amounts reported in Central and East Texas. Totals exceeded five inches in some locations. Topsoil moisture remained in short to very short supply over much of West Texas. Other areas saw conditions improve following recent rains with expanded areas reporting adequate to surplus conditions, especially in East Texas and along the upper coast. Winter wheat was reported in mostly good to poor condition with the High Plains crop in need of additional moisture. Field preparations for spring planting continued statewide. Winter vegetable harvest progressed. Pastures from East Texas to the Lower Rio Grande Valley benefited from recent rains while West Texas pasture and range continued to suffer from dry conditions. Statewide, pastures remain in mostly fair to very poor condition.
All cash prices above are market averages for locations covered by the USDA Market News program and do not reflect any particular sale at any specific location. Feeder cattle prices are for 500-600 pound medium and large No.1 steers at the Oklahoma City National Stockyards. Futures prices are quoted for the nearest month contract on the last trading day of the week. For additional information, contact TDA at (800) 835-5832 or visit our website, www.TexasAgriculture.gov.