Spring is at least a month ahead of itself where I live due to an exceptionally warm January. The Huckleberries are in bloom and the ryegrass is really growing fast. Luckily, we have also had enough rain to knock us out of the drought category but this is not true elsewhere. Some of the worst drought in the nation is in southwestern Georgia where the drought conditions are said to be the worst on record. The warmer than normal winter has worsened the drought there and in the Northern Great Plains where the warm weather melted the snow cover. Parts of Texas have seen a lot of rain recently but other parts are still in deep drought. Reservoirs and stock ponds are still very low even in areas that have received rain all across the South.
CattleFax is predicting that spring cull cow prices could hit $90 cwt thanks to limited imports and an improving rain picture in the South. Cull cow prices are predicted to surpass 2011′s record level as consumers trade down to ground beef due to the poor economy.
Wisconsin dairy grazier, Charles Optiz, has discovered a remnant stand of Meadow fescue that was the predominant grass in the upper Midwest 50 to 60 years ago. Opitz reports that his cows love it and produce more milk when they eat it. The ARS has determined that Meadow fescue is four to seven percent more digestible than other cool season grasses dominant in the USA. Under haying, it has a slightly lower yield than fescue but yields similarly under Management-intensive Grazing. A new variety called Hidden Valley is being grown for future release by Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Tonight will be our first killing frost of the winter here in South Mississippi. Normally, this happens around the first week in December. So far, our fears of a winter drought have not come true. In fact, thanks to heavy rains in November and December we ended the year only a couple of inches below normal. In June we were 50% of normal. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that the rain continues all across the South and sets uss up for a better spring this year.