A major winter storm disrupted Thanksgiving travel last week and will have a variety of impacts for some time.  The latest snow and cold hampers an already difficult crop harvest.  Though frozen conditions may increase access to muddy fields, deep snow in some areas will add additional delays to corn harvest and may further impact crop quality. On November 25, 84 percent of corn harvest was completed; well behind the average of 96 percent for the date.  Corn harvest was 68 percent complete in South Dakota, 57 percent in Wisconsin, 56 percent in Michigan and just 30 percent in North Dakota.  Many of these areas have been hit by significant snow and blizzard conditions in this latest storm.

 Winter weather often impacts cattle production, reducing production and increasing costs for ranches and feedlots.  Severe weather inevitably means management challenges and higher costs for producers but may also have market impacts if poor conditions are widespread enough.  The current blast of winter weather impacts a wide swath of cattle feedlots from Colorado, across parts of Nebraska and the Dakotas, part of Iowa and across Minnesota.  It appears that the major cattle feeding areas in Kansas and Texas missed the bulk of this storm.  

 While this storm may not be widespread enough to cause noticeable fed cattle market reactions, the storm may delay cattle finishing and disrupt slaughter flows in some regions and may help ensure that the seasonal peak is in for carcass weights.  Steer and heifer carcass weights have pushed above year ago levels the past few weeks with the latest steer carcass weights at 912 pounds compared to 900 pounds last year and heifer carcasses at 841 pounds, up from 836 pounds one year ago on the same date.  However, for the year to date, steer carcass weights are down 3.3 pounds and heifer carcasses are down 4.4 pounds.  An early storm like this may set the stage for a long period of feedlot production challenges with impacts persisting and accumulating through the winter.

 Winter weather often impacts the demand side of the market.  Winter storms may disrupt transportation and the flow of perishable products to markets.  Though people continue to eat during storms, travel and business disruptions often reduce restaurant traffic and power disruptions may reduce meat demand as consumers hunker down and get through the storm with minimal cooking and more use of prepared and ready to eat products.

 For cattle and beef markets, winter weather may have negative impacts on both supply and demand depending on the location, severity and size of storm events.  The net impact is uncertain and is often difficult to isolate in aggregate market prices.  However, higher costs, lost production and reduced revenues impact the entire industry from cattle producers to beef retailers.


Winter Forage      Field Day

On December 12, 2019, Oklahoma State University Extension will be hosting a Winter Forage Field Day beginning at 10:00 a.m. This event is set to be held at the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station in Perkins Oklahoma. The topics of discussion are Developing a Winter Grazing System, Winter Nutritional needs of the Cowherd, and the Economics of Grazing Systems. If interested, please RSVP by Dec. 10th to the Payne County Extension Office at 405-747-8320. 


Wintertime Brush   Control

Killing brush in the wintertime is something we don’t normally think about. It can however, bean effective way of removing brush invaders out of a pasture or fence line. Several different methods of controlling brush in the winter exist and each works a little differently depending on the size of the tree and how the chemical is applied. Cut stump treatments are an effective way of controlling unwanted brush and should be used any time a tree is mechanically cut down to reduce the incidence of resprouting of the tree from the stump or associated basal buds. After choosing a herbicide that will be most effective on the species you are trying to kill, mix 25 % of the herbicide with 75% diesel (1 quart of chemical to 3 quarts of diesel/gallon). Once the plant has been cut down, treat the outside edge of the stump or stem with a liberal amount of the spray. The liquid should be sprayed on heavy enough so that it runs down the side of the stump to the soil level. This works best on basal sprouting species of trees such as oaks and elms. It is not quite as effective on root sprouting species such as locusts and persimmon.

Conventional Basal bark treatments are similar to the cut stump treatments. Instead of cutting the tree down, you just apply the herbicide oil mix to the lower 15 to 20 inches of the trunk or stem of the plant you are trying to kill. It is important to treat the entire circumference of the tree until the herbicide diesel mixture begins to run off and begins to puddle around base of plant. The diesel herbicide mixture is 4 % herbicide to 96% diesel ( 151 cc of herbicide to each gallon of diesel). This treatment is effective at any time of the year. Low Volume Basal Bark treatments are similar to convention except that less liquid is sprayed on the plant stem. The diesel – chemical mixture is 20% herbicide to 80% diesel, (757 cc of chemical mixed in a gallon of diesel or a pint and a half of chemical mixed with diesel to complete 1 gallon). You just apply the herbicide oil mix to the lower 12 to 15 inches of the trunk or stem of the plant you are trying to kill. It is important to treat the entire circumference of the tree until the herbicide diesel mixture begins to run down the trunk but does not puddle on the soil. This treatment can be applied any time of the year but is most effective April to October. Soil Applied Spot Concentrate: These treatments are applied either in clay pellet formulations or as applications of herbicide concentrate at the base of the tree or brush species you intend to kill. Application rates are based on the brush size and brush species. Refer to the chemical label before attempting treatment. These spot treatments will need rainfall in order to get the chemical down in the soil were the tree roots can pick them up the following spring. Application timing is best left to late winter during the February to April time frame but will work year round. There are many herbicides that work well with these different application methods. Some of the more common are triclopyr, dicamba, picloram, tebuthiuron, and mixtures of 2,4-D with other broadleaf herbicides. When choosing a herbicide to use, select one that is active against the brush species you are trying to kill by the treatment method you are using. A table listing brush species by herbicide susceptibility can be obtained at your local county extension office.

Ag Corner is provided by Payne County Extension Educators Nathan Anderson, Agriculture; Dea Rash, FCS; Keith Reed, Horticulture and Summer Leister, 4-H.

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