Winter Wonders: Cattle boom in Oklahoma; and, a surprise cover crop surge in the Midwest

The winter time is typically thought of as a slower time in the agricultural world, but for Midwestern cattle ranchers and wheat producers, that’s not the case — they are having quite a busy season!

Oklahoma’s winter wheat grazing season is experiencing a remarkable surge, particularly in stocker cattle numbers, attributed to recent above-average precipitation in the wheat belt.

Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist Mark Johnson underscores the optimism for a larger January 1 feeder supply compared to the previous year, suggesting a potential rebound from the 18.5 percent decline witnessed in 2022.

In parallel, the Midwest is witnessing an unexpected burst of growth in cover crops, especially oats and rye, flourishing in unusually mild conditions.

Program Manager for the University of Wisconsin Nutrient and Pest Management program, Daniel Smith, highlights the exceptional growth, with cover crop oats displaying increased biomass and impressive root development.

Anticipated to have a significant impact this spring, the thriving cover crops face uncertainty with an upcoming snowfall and its potential effect on winter-killed species. However, the specialist assures that over-wintering cover crops will thrive under the insulated blanket of snow, ready to flourish as soon as it melts.

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