Consumers could see lower prices on holiday hams and turkeys this year, said Dr. David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economist in College Station. Anderson said wholesale prices on whole turkeys and hams are below the five-year average. Wholesale hams are at 75 cents per pound compared to an 80-cent average over the past five years, while turkeys are 83 cents per pound versus $1.15 per pound on average the past five years.
“We haven’t seen any retail numbers yet, but with wholesale prices where they are, we should expect to see lower prices than last year at the grocery store,” he said. “That all depends on the stores’ strategy, but typically we see them offer special prices on seasonal items like turkeys to get people into the stores.”
Anderson said the turkey industry has struggled the past few years in which losses or lower profits were the norm. Production numbers remained steady compared to last year, but prices have dipped. Wholesale prices were significantly lower than last year, he said. Whole turkeys at wholesale were $1.23 per pound compared to 83 cents this year.
How wholesale market numbers translate into prices at grocers will depend on the store. Anderson said he expected lower prices when he and his wife recently visited a retail store to purchase their Thanksgiving Day turkey.
“Stores have different strategies, but they have to have turkeys in the store this time of year,” he said. “Some will lose money on turkeys to get people to the store and make it up elsewhere. But I remember thinking ‘I was hoping for a better price than this’ after seeing the wholesale numbers.”
Anderson said another popular holiday option – hams – have seen a decline in wholesale prices heading into the holiday season. A record-setting year for U.S. pork production and low feed prices likely contributed to low prices.
“Overall, it looks like it should be a good holiday season for consumers,” he said. “If they wait or look for good deals, they’re likely to find some good prices.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Much-needed rainfall was received. Grain harvest was wrapping up and cotton harvest was nearly complete. Oats for winter grazing were 100 percent planted. Winter wheat was doing better with recent rains. Pastures and trees were changing color due to cooler temperatures. Livestock were in good condition. Supplemental feeding was necessary. Stock tanks were still low. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture. Overall crop, rangeland and pasture conditions were mostly good.
ROLLING PLAINS: Cooler, damp weather was the norm. Localized rains should help wheat and oats. The high humidity slowed cotton and peanut harvests. Wheat planting continued with some replanting due to armyworm damage prior to the freeze. Pastures entered dormancy, leaving little to no forage for livestock and resulting in supplemental feeding by producers.
COASTAL BEND: Conditions were dry and warm. Soil moisture conditions continued to decline. Producers were waiting for much-needed rain. Fertilizer applications started in fields. Ratoon rice fields were being cut. Pecan harvesting continued in most areas, although DeWitt County reported their pecan crop was almost a complete loss due to extreme high winds experienced during Hurricane Harvey and the Guadalupe River flooding that followed. Hay baling continued. Many winter pastures, including oats, wheat and ryegrass, have either not emerged or were stressed from lack of moisture. There was still ample forage available for livestock. Auction barns were experiencing larger-than-normal runs.
EAST: A cool front brought slow, soaking rains to the district. Harrison and Marion counties’ burn bans were lifted. Anderson and Smith counties’ cool-season vegetables were doing well with some harvested and marketed. Anderson County producers harvested cotton, averaging 1.5 bales per dryland acre, but some acres were too wet to harvest. Anderson County’s winter wheat crop was doing better due to the recent rainfall; 100 percent emerged. Hay supplementation continued throughout the district due to struggling pastures. In Cherokee, Henderson and Smith counties, ryegrass began to emerge due to cooler weather. Houston County producers planted winter pastures. Pasture and rangeland conditions were mostly fair across the district with the exception of Jasper and Smith counties, which reported good conditions, and Marion County, which reported poor conditions. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were short in Gregg, Henderson, Marion and Wood counties, with all other counties reporting adequate conditions. Livestock conditions were fair to good. Cattle market prices ended firm with some classes $3 higher per hundredweight and large numbers at the sale barns. Wild pig activity increased in Anderson, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Wood and Upshur counties as more water was available. Deer were foraging in Harrison County. Houston County reported flies were kept at bay due to the cold wet weather.
SOUTH PLAINS: Cotton harvest continued. High humidity and fog delayed harvest during mornings so farmers had less time to be in the field. Temperatures were expected to warm up over the next few days. Reported yields were good to better than expected. Corn and sorghum harvests continued. Winter wheat was in fair to good condition. Topsoil moisture was short to adequate. Pastures and rangelands were in fair to good condition.
PANHANDLE: Temperatures were cold one day, warmer the next and then cold again. Soil moisture was short to adequate in most areas. Deaf Smith County producers were busy with harvest and planting wheat fields. Corn harvest was winding down with all but the late-planted corn in the bin. Cotton harvest was starting slow as the crop was drying down gradually. Very little cotton was harvested but harvesting should pick up with expected warmer temperatures. Winter wheat was in all stages from being planted to having grazing cattle. Peanut harvest continued. A freeze helped move harvest conditions along. Grasses in pastures continued to lose protein value, and supplementation was expected to be necessary to keep cattle in good condition. Final hay cutting for forages neared completion.
NORTH: Much cooler temperatures arrived with highs in the low 50s. A little rain fell with most areas receiving about 0.5 of an inch. The rain was helpful but much more was needed. Soil conditions were still very dry with topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranging from mostly short to adequate, with some counties reporting very short. The cotton crop was excellent and harvest continued with about 90-95 percent complete. Yields were very good with about a 2-bale per acre average. Most small grain farmers planted, but rainfall was needed. Most wheat had emerged and the rain was helpful, but more was needed. Grazing wheat and oats perked up and looked much better. The majority of farmers had finished planting seed wheat and oats. Some cattle producers were starting to supplement and provide hay after an early frost. Calf weights were good for the most part, and cows were in great shape going into the winter. There were no reports of armyworms.
FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the upper 80s with lows in the 40s. Rain amounts were 0.1-0.5 of an inch for the reporting period. Cotton harvest made good progress until a little rain shower moved in and made everything just wet enough to halt harvest. Conditions started to dry but high humidity and drizzling rain shut harvest down again. Producers were anxious about getting back into the field to finish up the crop. Pecan harvest was expected to start soon. The wheat crop looked better as armyworms were under control, however producers still expected a hard killing freeze. Pastures were green for the livestock. Tall weeds were tended to reduce fire hazards amid windy conditions. Producers continued to feed livestock and wildlife.
WEST CENTRAL: Weather was seasonable. A cold front brought much cooler temperatures and rainfall. Some areas experienced below freezing temperatures for a short time. Many areas reported some rainfall, but more was needed for good growth of small grains and to fill stock tanks. Stock tanks remained very low due to slow soaking rains and no runoff. Oat and wheat fields were in good condition and showing signs of improvement. Recent rainfall should help late-planted and replanted crops. Some winter wheat planting continued. Armyworm reports declined drastically. Cotton harvest continued. Some producers were delayed by wet conditions. Harvest was expected to continue as fields dry out. Rangeland and pastures were in good shape and remained steady with added moisture. Warm-season grasses and forages were transitioning into winter dormancy. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Supplemental feeding increased. Fall cattle work continued. Cattle market prices were mostly steady. Pecan harvest was underway and initial reports were good. Hunting season was in full swing.
SOUTHEAST: The rice ratoon crop was being harvested, but the blackbirds were causing a lot of damage. Yields on ratoon crops were down substantially due to Hurricane Harvey floodwaters. In Walker County, a slow rain helped to settle the dust. Cooling temperatures should also prevent moisture loss. Cool-season forages were responding to moisture. In Montgomery County, temperatures remained above average and kept perennial grasses growing and competing with winter annuals. Morning temperatures were beginning to cool. Soil moisture levels throughout the district ranged widely from adequate to very short with adequate being most common. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely as well — from excellent to very poor, with good ratings being most common.
SOUTHWEST: Dry conditions continued with a few areas receiving light showers to half an inch of rain over the reporting period and cooler temperatures. Opening weekend of hunting season had poor results due to hot weather. Wheat and oats were in generally fair to good condition. Pecan harvest continued. Pastures continued to decline with the cooler nighttime temperatures. Winter pastures looked good, however, a few experienced insect issues. Some supplemental feeding of livestock occurred. Livestock remained in good condition.
SOUTH: Cooler temperatures were reported with some drizzle in southern parts of the district. Western areas were very dry with short moisture conditions, though foggy, misty mornings were reported. Other areas reported short soil moisture and arid conditions. Webb County reported 0.3 of an inch of rain. Wheat was irrigated due to lack of rain. Pasture and rangeland conditions remained fair to good, but all rangelands and crops continued to suffer due to lack of moisture. Coastal Bermuda fields were not producing hay, but ranchers continued to irrigate with water from canals. Hay producers were harvesting the last few fields for the season. Higher-quality hay was bringing premium prices while lesser quality continued to be competitively priced. Dryland wheat and oats were beginning to show some stress due to lack of moisture. Peanut harvest was underway in most areas. Oats and wheat were mostly planted except where they will follow peanuts. Cabbage harvest started late and was expected to continue for several weeks. Pecan harvest was expected to be complete soon. Livestock producers with animals on native range and pastures did not report any supplemental feeding activities in some areas, but cattle and wildlife received supplemental feed in other areas. Spinach harvest started on early planted fields for fresh baby-leaf markets. Cabbage, carrots, onions and spinach made good progress following irrigation. Livestock body condition scores averaged a 5. A few farmers ran deep tillage equipment in fields. The local livestock market in Jim Wells County continued to run above-normal volumes with over 900 beef cattle sold during the reporting period. Cull-cow prices continued a downward trend while feeder calves were steady to slightly down compared to last reporting period. The live cattle market in Brooks County reported another good week with fewer head in the barn, but prices remained on a positive trend. Fall vegetable crops were progressing well. In Hidalgo County, harvest of citrus and sugarcane continued. Onion planting was completed. Row crop preparation in irrigated fields continued for the early January planting. There was some harvest of vegetables, tomatoes, and onions. Weed problems were reported throughout Brooks County in pastureland and row crop fields.