We don’t follow the US Drought Monitor map published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) every week, so this statement has to be qualified a bit but we don’t recall ever seeing an August map of the US showing the kind of positive moisture conditions that exist this year, write Len Steiner and Steve Meyer.

The reason for talk of record corn yields is clear: Virtually the entire major corn producing region of the US is without drought conditions of any kind. Another drought index published by NOAA does indicate continuing wet conditions in Nebraska and South Dakota, a belt through northern Missouri-southern Iowa-western Illinois and most of Michigan but wet conditions in August are hardly ever a problem and are even rarer in the far western Cornbelt.

Rainfall and resulting range and pasture conditions have the greatest impact in the short run on the beef sector and, in particular, on cow-calf and stocker operations. The name “cow-calf operations” is pretty self-explanatory. Stocker operations are farms/ranches that run light calves on pasture until they reach feeder weight and move to feedyards. These light calves can be placed in yards early if grass is scarce but there isn’t a good alternative to grass for cows, especially with today’s high feed costs.

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