“Market Advisor” columnist Harlan Hughes explains how a heifer-replacement program can be designed for use as a counter-cyclical management strategy to the cattle cycle in “Working the cycle — Part IV” on page 8. Hughes explains how “dollar-averaging,” a strategy taught in business schools for the buying of mutual funds, can lower overall capital investment in a beef-cow operation and generate more revenue over the cycle.

There still snow on the ground in much of grass country, but it's important to start thinking now about your spring pastures, writes “Grazier's Page” columnist Jim Gerrish. In “Getting Ready For Spring,” on page 14, Gerrish offers some helpful tips on the broadcast seeding of legumes over snow, and when and how to apply soil nutrients for optimum results.

Crossbreeding can yield as much as 25% greater lifetime productivity in pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed compared to straightbred cows, Jim Gosey tells BEEF Senior Editor Clint Peck. Gosey, a retired University of Nebraska Extension beef specialist, explains how crossbreeding composites maximizes heterosis, but requires careful management in “Crossbreeding With Composites” on page 22.

The term “quality system assessment” (QSA) has quickly become part of beef-industry jargon as the first beef exports in two years are now moving to Japan under careful age-verification rules. Contributor Walt Barnhart explores the challenges and questions the industry faces as it complies with the new age-verification rules in “QSA Joins The Industry Lexicon” on page 56.

“Trade resumption has been supportive of prices, but it hasn't necessarily moved them higher,” Mike Miller of Cattle-Fax tells Wes Ishmael in “Japanese Sun Will Rise Slowly,” page 60. Among the big questions is how long — after a two-year absence of U.S. beef in Japan — will it take for Japanese consumers to again embrace U.S. beef products.

“Is It Worth It?” asks contributor Larry Stalcup in regard to whether U.S. producers should chase the strict guidelines required to compete in the newly opened Japan market. In his page 64 story, Stalcup reports on what some industry experts are saying about the situation, and the $25/head premium on animals qualifying for export. Bottom line, just like always, early adopters will be the most rewarded.