With so much summer moisture in the central and southern High Plains, and lower wheat prices, winter wheat pasture was shaping up to be a bumper commodity this year. Though still promising, cool, wet weather the past two months has robbed some of the potential.
Speaking of conditions in Oklahoma, specifically, Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, explained last week, “Wheat planting is still behind schedule and some producers are just now finishing up planting, some of which was intended to be planted in September. Overall, wheat stands are highly variable with the wheat that was planted early very big with good stands (except where pests have taken a toll) to just planted or barely emerged wheat.”
According to Peel, whether late-planted wheat will make for grazing depends largely on the intentions of wheat growers to harvest a grain crop.
“In some parts of the state, wheat is grown primarily for forage most years and those producers will certainly buy stocker calves for grazing through the end of the year and into January if necessary, depending on when the wheat is ready for grazing,” Peel explains. “For other producers, wheat graze-out is a year-by-year decision sometimes not made until late February or early March when first hollow stem stage forces the choice between grain and grazing. However, this year, a late start to winter grazing likely means some producers won’t have enough days to make dual-purpose wheat feasible, and the decision to graze now also involves a choice to go ahead and plan for graze-out next spring.”
According to Peel, “Some producers may take a bit of a wait-and-see attitude before deciding to buy stockers. However, the fact the wheat is finally in the ground and fields and corrals are drying up likely means stocker buying will pick up from now until Thanksgiving. Moreover, the current state of the wheat (grain) market makes graze-out a definite possibility for some producers.”