U.S. range and pasture conditions “improved” last week. At least, they improved if one measures current conditions as a drop in the percentage of acres rated in poor or very poor condition for the first time since the first week of JUNE!

The CME Group says in its Sept. 28 Daily Livestock Report that the percentage of acres, nationally, in those two lowest categories fell from 44% to 42%, respectively, last week. That compares to 25% last year and an average of 32.4% during 2005-09.

Still, conditions in the Southern Plains remained very bad last week despite improving 3%. Still, 93% of Texas and Oklahoma pastures remain in poor or very poor condition, and it’s almost certainly too late for any marked improvement before spring. Though several areas in the parched regions received welcome rain over the past few weeks, the precipitation wasn’t nearly enough to end drought conditions, the CME Group says.

What’s more, these dry conditions have another impact on pasture and feeding practices in their influence on wheat planting, wheat pasture and, ultimately, the supply of hard red winter wheat next summer.

“USDA reports that 26% of total winter wheat acres had been planted as of Sept. 25. That’s an 11% gain for the week but leaves planted acres 6% behind the same date last year, and 9% below the 10-year average. Both Texas and Oklahoma gained during the week to reach 14% and 11% planted, respectively. But those numbers are far behind the normal levels of 34% and 28% for the two states,” the authors say.

“Growers in both states are still concerned about the amount of moisture available. While surface moisture has been helped with recent rains, there is little available below the first few inches putting seedlings at risk if more rain is not received soon. Many are simply opting to wait to plant.”

Depending on the specific area, cattle usually begin to move to wheat pasture in October, with the shift increasing in November. Delayed planting will limit the number of cattle that can go to wheat pastures unless conditions improve soon, the analysts say.