December 10, 2023

From the Barns: Year-end strength

We finally got a frost that finished off our corn after wheat. I have been busy pumping manure and did not get involved with chopping that last field of corn, but Brett reported it had made 12 tons — after 90-bushel wheat, that’s a great yield! The wheat/corn program has been working well and gives us somewhere to go with manure in the off-season, as well. I still cannot get over how good the crop yields have been with the limited rainfall we received all summer.

Our pastures have rebounded with a little moisture and cool fall temperatures and we have been able to back away from supplemental feeding on most cow groups. Drew has been seeding wheat on the crop fields now that we have finished chopping and we have had enough rain to give some hope for germination. It is too late for much growth this fall, but by mid-March next year the fields will be ready to provide a few weeks of early grazing.

Fed cattle marketings have continued at a brisk pace. The market has felt some pressure to move lower, but with Christmas needs getting closer I am hopeful that the market has some year-end strength still waiting in the wings. Last year, we had tremendous premiums being offered for high-quality cattle that would be utilized over the holidays — with any luck, 2023 will be a repeat.

Feeder cattle prices took a hit recently, but when heavy yearlings are still well above $2, it’s hard to remain negative too long. Feed prices have moved a little higher as harvest winds down, and it has surprised me. With the reported yields being so good, I expected corn to cheapen up a little. That reconfirms what little I know about markets and what makes them move!

Other than hauling a little feed to the cow herds there is not much going on with cows and calves, just growing along and consuming whatever is out in the pastures and fields. There will not be much fall wheat grazing since it has been so dry. I have been hearing some chatter about revaccinating some calves in preparation for weaning and I expect that will happen when we have a little break from school activities and deer hunting loses its luster for our younger help.

Basketball is about to crank up for our sports teams and I am anticipating a case of fast-food burnout and bleacher butt as the season progresses. November through March seems like a long season for me to remain focused, but what else is winter for?

Steve Foglesong

Steve Foglesong

Astoria, Ill.