In the Cattle Markets: Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

US - . Although Isaac spared the Gulf States the level of damage that most were expecting, there are some takeaways for the livestock industry, writes John Michael Riley, Mississippi State University.
calendar icon 11 September 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

First, the storm was quite large. A colleague who was unfamiliar with hurricanes noted an expectation that the storm would blow in “fast and hard” and be over with quickly. To the contrary, Isaac was a very slow moving storm – much slower than normal – and as a result dropped a tremendous amount of rain as it moved inland and up through the Midwest.

The impact of this was a double-edged sword. On the bright side, the parched land from Arkansas northward through portions of the Midwest finally received some much-needed rains. Realistically, it was too little and too late but the effect was positive in that I have heard reports of some greening pastures. This is evident in the most recent Crop Progress and Condition report that showed some of the hardest hit states, most notably Arkansas and Missouri, experienced a decrease in “Very Poor” pasture conditions – albeit a very minimal decrease with respect to Missouri.

On the other hand, one of the few bright spots with regard to the US corn and soybean crop – the Delta States – did receive some rain and wind damage. As noted earlier, the damage was less severe than anticipated; however, any damage could prove to be a further detriment to an already pitiful crop. The market started pricing in a small “hurricane premium” in advance of the storm but has since fallen back as a result of the minimal damage. Still, what little corn had not been harvested in Mississippi and Louisiana (28 per cent and 12 per cent not harvested prior to Isaac, respectively) did see some stalks blown over and the rains kept combines at bay.

More importantly, the season is not over and September 10 has always been considered the ‘peak’ of the season. Therefore, these issues could arise again. The advantages of any rains that these storms might bring will most likely outweigh the negative impact on, what appears to be, a crop that has largely been harvested in extreme southern states and on the verge harvesting further north. Still, 2012 has been a rather quiet year with respect to storms, which does not bode well for drought relief in states that often rely on these to provide rainfall.

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