Northern Plain Drought Accelerates, Placements Head South
In South Dakota, over 75 percent of the state is in some level of drought, while pockets of dryness also exist in Montana and Minnesota.
Pasture and range conditions are estimated on a weekly basis in USDA’s Crop Progress Report.
Figure 2 shows this year’s grazing conditions as a percent of land requiring supplemental feeding.
The result has been that some cattle are coming off grass and moving to feedlots in Nebraska and will continue to do so if grazing conditions warrant.
The northern plains is a key cow-calf producing region of the U.S. and, according to the World Agricultural Outlook Board, as much as 6 percent of the cattle are located in an area affected by drought, figure 3.
Pre-report estimates indicate very large placements during May 2017, in the range of 6.5 to 14 percent higher than a year ago.
This placement number and the weight breakdown of those placements are factors to watch in the May and June numbers to get a feel for the effect of the northern plains drought.
USDA data in May showed imports were 54 percent higher than the previous year, or about 31,400 head.
However, the increase analysts are expecting is closer to 2 million head more cattle placed into feedlots than last year.
Large southern plains placements are going to be driven by economic factors, rather than drought-induced as they are in the northern plains.