By: Adam Russell
Consumers should find good prices, options for Fourth of July grilling
- Writer: Adam Russell, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact: Dr. David Anderson, 979-845-4351, email@example.com
- Bill Thompson, 325-653-4576, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – Consumers should find good prices and grilling options as retailers feature beef, pork and chicken for the Fourth of July holiday, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.
Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension economist, College Station, said consumers can expect a mixed bag on steak prices, but that overall record pork and chicken production and lower beef prices lend well to retail sales to entice shoppers.
“We’re heading into the holiday with large meat production across beef, pork and chicken,” he said. “Grocery stores frequently feature meat items in their sale papers and in-store and grocery store club card specials.”
On the beef side, Anderson said ribeye and tenderloin prices are below a year ago, but strip loins are higher than a year ago, at their normal seasonal peak prices for the year. Choice briskets are also below a year ago.
There will likely be some good deals on the pork side as well, Anderson said, with pork loins about 15 cents per pound below a year ago. Sparerib prices are also below a year ago.
Bill Thompson, AgriLife Extension economist, San Angelo, said the competition among proteins is good for consumers but may be pressuring cow/calf producers. Prices have stabilized, but he expects Texas cow/calf producers to reign in herd numbers after three years of growth and subsequent steadily declining beef prices.
Thompson said low beef prices likely contributed to record per capita consumption of beef in 2018, 59.1 pounds compared to 53.1 pounds per capita in 2016.
This year is also expected to be the first time in several years that annual pork and beef per capita consumption combined to surpass consumption of chicken – 111.1 pounds compared to 110 pounds, respectively.
“It’s tough on the beef industry because people don’t want to pay a premium,” he said. “As much protein as there is available, it’s tough to see a big rally for beef.”
That will likely mean good specials on items like steaks and briskets, Thompson said.
Thompson said retailers will likely feature beef, but be careful about margins on quality cuts. He said the Memorial Day holiday typically realizes more featured beef, but margins on choice cuts may have deterred some retailers from offering seasonal specials.
Retailers are also known to feature beef cuts they are willing to lose money on to entice customers because they understand money can be made on related products from charcoal to chips and dip.
“Retailers know a shopping basket with beef in it will make them more money than a shopping basket without beef,” he said. “There’s a science to their specials.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Pastures continued to hold but needed moisture. Pastures were dry and forages decreased. Producers needed rain to make hay. Livestock were in good condition. Grain sorghum looked good. High temperatures, lack of moisture and south winds dried down corn fields to a point of minimal grain yield. Irrigation was running at 100 percent capacity on crops where available. Half of the district’s counties reported fair soil moisture. Most counties reported good overall crop, rangeland and pasture conditions.
ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions were hot and windy. The western part of the district received much-needed rain, with pastures and rangeland improving daily due to plenty of moisture to help grasses and forages. Cotton planting continued. However, in drier counties, some cotton was dying in the rows, some after emergence and some before germination. Hay making was in full swing for grasses and forage sorghum, though yields continued to be poor. One county reported a burn ban had not been imposed but was being considered on a weekly basis. Livestock were in good condition with little to no supplemental feeding. Some producers were putting out mineral blocks and trying to control flies and insects.
COASTAL BEND: Conditions continued to worsen, although there was much anticipation of rain in the forecast. Due to the lack of moisture, all crops were suffering. Corn and grain sorghum harvests began with several early maturing fields already harvested, but yields were poor. Cotton was in full bloom and in fair condition. Pastures were virtually dormant from lack of moisture. Hay was in high demand, but ranchers were holding on to hay supplies.
EAST: Lack of rainfall continued to set crops back significantly throughout the district. Drought conditions worsened in Cherokee County with pond and creek water levels dropping, and conditions in Trinity County were getting critical due to lack of rain. Sabine County reported more than half of hay-producing acreage received from 2-6 inches of rainfall. Grasses were still short in many places but growth had picked up substantially improving prospects of adequate hay production. Henderson, San Augustine and Wood counties reported a few scattered showers. Cherokee County hay production was complete with most producers first hay cuttings half to three-quarters of normal averages. Houston County producers were concerned about a hay shortage, and producers were cutting and baling before forecasted rain. Some producers were buying hay already. Pasture and rangeland conditions were poor to good with Cherokee County reporting very poor conditions. Topsoil conditions throughout the district varied from very short in Gregg, Houston and Shelby counties to adequate in Anderson, Jasper, Sabine and San Augustine counties. Subsoil conditions were adequate in Anderson, Sabine, San Augustine and Wood counties with all other counties reporting short soil conditions. Anderson County reported sorghum, soybean and corn fields needed rain with corn in desperate need. Vegetable crops were in good condition, but needed rainfall as well. Jasper County reported winds damaged some corn, and Anderson County reported cotton fields looked great. Anderson County producers reported peas, squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, blackberries, blueberries and peaches were being harvested with good demand and market prices for all vegetables and fruits. Anderson County also reported the pecan crop was moderate to heavy depending on tree variety. Producers there also reported pecan scab was light to moderate with no aphids showing up in pecan orchards. No major livestock issues were reported. Cattle market prices in Gregg, Houston and Shelby counties were all down, and cattle numbers began to climb due to short grazing conditions. Harrison County producers sprayed hay meadows for grasshoppers. Wild pig activity increased in Henderson, Trinity and Wood counties. Gregg County reported wild pig activity dropped. Henderson County reported fly and mosquito numbers were up.
SOUTH PLAINS: The district received from 0.2 of an inch to more than 1 inch of rain, but rain events were likely not enough to save many dryland cotton fields. Most cotton fields had not yet emerged because of incredibly hot and windy conditions. Insurance will release those crops soon, and producers will consider what and if to replant. All other crops were planted and in need of more moisture. Producers were supplementing with irrigation where available. Fall armyworms were showing up in high numbers, but there were not any major pest issues in corn or sorghum yet. Pastures, rangeland and winter wheat continued to need rain. Cattle were in good condition.
PANHANDLE: Temperatures were near normal. Weather conditions were mostly hot and windy. Soil moisture levels varied from adequate to very short with most reporting short conditions. Some moisture was received with amounts ranging from a trace to 1.5 inches. Some areas were missed by the rainfall. More moisture was needed throughout the district, and rain was in the forecast. Corn was making good progress, and pest issues were minimal. Grasshopper hatch numbers were considerably lower this year, but there were some areas with increased populations. Grain sorghum and sunflowers were planted. A second cutting of alfalfa was ready to be cut. Cattle were in good condition. Rangelands improved from recent rains, and supplemental feeding ceased. Field work continued in areas not delayed by rain. Winter wheat harvest began with some sampling and harvesting of dryland fields. Weed control and fertility issues were addressed as needed.
NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranged from adequate to short across the counties. No significant rainfall was received as hot, dry conditions persisted. Temperatures were in the low to mid 90s with 5-10 mph winds that continued to dry soil moisture. Pastures were showing drought stress. Hay harvest continued but slowed due to lack of moisture. Wheat harvest continued with about 50 percent of fields harvested. Early yield reports indicated an average crop with most fields yielding between 50-60 bushels per acre. Corn and small grains crops looked very good with no reports of problems. Soybeans looked good.
FAR WEST: Temperatures were moderate with highs in the mid-90s and lows in the 60s, but conditions were windy. Rainfall amounts in western parts of the district were between 0.5-4 inches. All dryland cotton failed to emerge, and many acres of irrigated cotton failed to come up. Overall, about 25 percent of normal cotton acres were expected to produce this year and even lower yields were expected. Corn and watermelons were doing surprisingly well where deer were not feeding too heavily. Pastures were scorched from arid conditions and serious damages were done to most pastures as wildlife continued to feed after cattle were pulled off. In the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, area Pima and Upland cotton was being irrigated for the first time. Alfalfa, pecans and Sudan grass fields were irrigated. Some chances of rain were in the forecast.
WEST CENTRAL: Conditions were hot, humid and dry. All areas needed rain. All forage growth slowed due to drought, and stock tank water levels were dropping. Grasshopper numbers increased and were starting to cause problems in hay fields. Growers were busy planting cotton, and many were busy replanting. Some peaches were being harvested. Some summer annual forage fields were fertilized. Most wheat was harvested, and yields were better than expected. Sorghum and corn were doing well considering the dry conditions. Pastures were in fair to good shape.
SOUTHEAST: Dry conditions continued. Gardeners were irrigating for several weeks with significant wilting occurring during hot days. Measurable rain was needed to offset drying conditions. A storm that moved through the district produced scattered showers. More rain was expected. Livestock appeared in good overall health despite the hot weather. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied from excellent to very poor with fair ratings being most common. Soil moisture levels ranged from adequate to very short with short ratings being most common.
SOUTHWEST: Dry hot weather hurt available forages in most counties. Pastures were suffering from heat and drought. Corn was drying fast. Sorghum needed a good rain to reach yield potentials. Livestock conditions were declining due to limited grazing, but fair to good overall. Fawning season was in full swing.
SOUTH: Hot, dry weather conditions with short to very short moisture levels continued throughout the district. Live Oak County reported trace amounts to 0.5 of an inch of rainfall. Starr and Duval counties reported scattered showers. Rainstorms were in the forecast. Potato harvest was coming to an end, as was peanut planting. All crops were under irrigation. Corn continued to mature, and cotton was squaring and making good progress. Harvest of early planted corn was expected to begin soon in some areas. Sorghum was maturing nicely. Pasture and rangeland conditions were poor and needed rainfall. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued and increased in some areas. Stock tank water levels continued to decline. Several producers were hauling water for livestock and wildlife as stock tanks began to dry. Body condition scores on cattle remained good to fair. Livestock markets continued to be steady, and offerings were well above normal. Hay production was minimal with exception of producers baling failed sorghum fields. Many producers were considering baling sorghum stubble after harvest.
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