Ranch Real Estate Blog

Strategic Planning For The Ranch

February 10th, 2016

13 Things to Consider to Holistically Manage your Cowherd

by in Strategic Planning For The Ranch

In my previous three articles, I addressed topics that need to be considered “holistically” or in a “systems approach” to obtain good results. In the first article, I argued that there is a better way to do everything we do and expressed my dislike for the term “best practices.” I suggested that only a few farmers and ranchers have really started to make improvements to their soil and land. No one intentionally harms their land; but by ignoring or not taking time to learn “better practices,” many are allowing their land to degrade by the use of grazing and farming practices that were developed when we knew no better.

I also suggested that we are not very good at selecting replacement heifers and that we should let nature and the bulls do the selection.

In addition, good managers should be able to sell heifer calves, open or bred yearling heifers, or cows for a profit. Therefore, you don’t need to keep a cow for five or six years for her to cover her costs. We too often forget that we keep cows to have calves, and the calves’ job is to cover the cows’ cost for a year plus make a profit. The sale of cows should cover their development costs.

Scattered throughout the articles were the following 13 points that need to be considered together to achieve best possible results:

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  1. We need to learn from nature and develop systems that are highly dependent on sunlight, rainfall, soil and our ingenuity with low dependence on fossil fuel, iron and chemicals. Much progress is being made and there is still much to learn about natural systems. As we learn how the soil and all nature reacts to our actions, especially as we farm and graze, we will be able to become more reliant on sunlight, soil, rainfall and our ingenuity for increased production and soil health.
  2. Improving grazing practices can be the catalyst for many good things—lower inputs and fed feed, increased carrying capacity, simpler operating systems, etc. Include strategic supplementation of protein and minerals in your grazing planning. Since retiring in 2010, I have visited a lot of places as a consultant and speaker. In nearly all of those, I have tried to visit some progressive, out-of-the box thinkers. I thought my co-workers and I had made great progress before my retirement, but I have since seen results that are almost unbelievable—farming without fertilizers and pesticides and very little herbicide where the yields are not at the very top, but they are respectfully better than local averages with much less cost. Soil and water infiltration are greatly improving. With the implementation of planned, time-controlled, adaptive grazing, I have seen stocking rates at more than double local averages with so much feed remaining that you know stocking rates will still increase even more.
  3. Calving in sync with nature so that cows are calving, nursing, preparing to rebreed and rebreeding when they require no fed feed except for appropriate protein and mineral supplementation.
  4. Cut fed feed inputs, buy or raise bulls to fit your environment and then cull the right cows. You may choose to cut feed inputs and move your calving date over a three or four year period to avoid the possibility of having to cull too many cows in one year. You might also want to see if you need to move some protein supplementation from winter or spring to fall to maintain body condition when cows are breeding on fall grass.
  5. Recognize that, if you cull all open and dry cows and a few more with other problems, about half or more will be gone by the time they reach six years of age.
  6. To let nature select replacement heifers, you must use a minimal development program achieving about 55% of expected mature cow body weight by the beginning of breeding season and have a short exposure to bulls. I like less than 30 days with 21-24 days being my ideal. Anything more than this is not letting nature select the heifers. Your management is selecting them and allowing animals of lower innate fertility to become pregnant. Supplementing protein to the bred yearling prior to calving as a two year old and again just prior to breeding as a two year old could produce good results for lifetime production.
  7. Nothing that EPDs or genetics can add to late-bred heifers will compensate for the lifetime productivity of heifers that calve early the first time. Heifers that conceive in the first cycle are so much better in lifetime productivity. They will wean bigger calves, because of age, not growth rate, and will average one more calf in a lifetime. This does not imply that we should not be concerned with growth rate and carcass traits when selecting bulls. However, we may want to use the available EPDs to limit mature size, milking ability and even growth rate to fit our environment.
  8. It is much more economical to sell an open yearling heifer than an open two-year-old heifer or an older open cow.
  9. You will need to keep and expose significantly more heifers than you want to become pregnant. If you have a good record of previous calvings, you will know what percentage came in the first 21, 24, or 30 days. You can then divide the target number for pregnant heifers by that percentage to determine the number to expose. If I don’t have a history available, I like to assume no more than 60-65% pregnancy rate when changing to a short breeding season for heifers, meaning if I want 50 pregnant, I will have to expose 77-83.
  10. With cows, I like a short-calving season and a long-breeding season. You might ask how that is done. You sell late-bred cows or late calving pairs with no excuses. In other words, if they are bred or calve “late,” you sell them. “Late” is determined by how many you need to sell to use your carrying capacity for the year and make room for the bred replacements. That gives you wonderful flexibility for drought management and other situation that require you to reduce numbers. You can calve for 30, 45, 60 days or any number and then group the later calving ones as a sale group. For a number of years, we sold everything that did not calve in the first 30 days regardless of age. As a result of that and a short heifer-breeding season, about 87% calved in the first 30 days and very few of the sale cows sold as open cows.
  11. None of this works without low-cost, low-input heifer development. But then, I’m not sure ranching works without low-cost, low-input heifer development. Cowherd profitability starts with a low-cost bred yearling heifer and ends with a good sale of that cow later in her life. If you take care of that, what happens in between will usually take care of itself. If you have the observation skills for range and cattle to successfully use minimal development on your heifers, you will surely be doing a good job with your cows and keeping cost down. Selling your market cows effectively will take some work, but the economic leverage of selling bred cows for a premium over open cows can be big. Most of the difference drops straight to the bottom line. The only added cost is your selling effort. A high percentage of your market cows will be younger cows.  Once some of the people nearby who are, or should be, terminal crossing find out what you have for sale, they should be anxious to talk to you.
  12. Occasionally I hear of people who don’t calve heifers until they are three years old.  That wastes a year of costs. The typical reasons are difficulty in getting good conception rates in yearling and/or two-year-old heifers when first breeding as yearlings. Some also are fearful of calving difficulties in the two year olds. If this is happening to you, I would suggest that the cattle aren’t well adapted to your environment or that a little well-timed and strategic protein and mineral supplementation might solve your problem. Again, many cows are genetically too big, want to give too much milk and don’t have enough heterosis (hybrid vigor) to adapt to low-cost environments.
  13. Don’t change the environment to fit the cow. Change the cow. Perhaps a little, strategically timed supplementation to take off the very rough edges of the environment can be a very wise investment of time and money.

I hope this helps you see the close interconnectedness of grazing management and soil health, replacement heifer development and selection, calving date, fitting cows to the environment, calving in a short window, selling bred versus selling open cows and calving every year for you or a customer. When these things are put together properly for your ranch in your location, you will find improved profitability.

This article was published on beefmagazine.com by .

Texas Ranchers Seeking Alternative Incomes

December 22nd, 2014


 — The Muleshoe Ranch’s profits were chopped in half when the drought withered pastures, dried up stock tanks and forced the owner to move most of his cattle out of state.

Three years later, the sprawling 33,000-acre West Texas ranch is again populated with cattle, thanks to improved rainfall. But John R. Anderson is no longer taking chances with his bottom line. The fourth-generation rancher is exploring alternative incomes to ensure his business can survive another hit from Mother Nature, including leasing part of his land for quail, deer and antelope hunting.

“The drought opened our eyes to we need to be more diverse,” said Anderson, who ranches near Gail, about 70 miles south of Lubbock. “Our mind isn’t closed. If there’s something we can do we’re going to go for it, if it makes economic sense.”

His counterparts in the nation’s top beef-producing state are doing everything they can to make up for the smaller profits since the drought, which began in early 2011, forced a widespread culling of herds. Though limited supplies have prompted a record rise in beef prices, more ranchers are leasing part of their property for hunting or selling water to oil companies or desert plants and mistletoe to nurseries. Some are even taking side jobs to make ends meet.

The changes may be permanent, and the ongoing drought is among the main factors that have indelibly altered the state’s centuries-old cattle ranching tradition, says Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association vice president Richard Thorpe.

Hunting leases are perhaps the most popular way ranchers have diversified their incomes. Anderson will lease his land for as much as $5 an acre; other places charge thousands of dollars per gun.

From the beginning of the drought through last year, the amount of land designated for hunting- and wildlife-management use increased by about a third to 4.1 million acres. The extra income offers financial stability to ranchers who have not yet fully replenished their numbers — down about 18 percent from 13.3 million cattle in Texas and at the lowest point nationally since the early 1950s.

Several months after becoming a partial owner of the Bar L Ranch with her fiance two years ago in North Texas, Mandy Dauses realized the profit margins were thinner than she expected, due in part to having a smaller herd that was culled by nearly three-quarters. She now works full-time at a veterinarian’s clinic and spends nights and weekends tending to the ranch, catching stray cattle and custom-baling hay for extra income.

“Even though we don’t have as many (cattle), they’re bringing in so much money we can justify smaller numbers and still operate,” said Dauses, whose ranch in Kemp now holds about 120 head of cattle.

While industry groups don’t keep count of how many ranchers are generating alternative incomes, they have noticed an uptick amid continued concerns of water scarcity and poor grazing conditions.

Ranchers are more often turning to hunting ventures because wild animals do not require grass to feed on, cattle raisers association spokeswoman Stacy Fox said. “They realize they can make a lot of money without as much input,” she said.

Some are marketing hunting opportunities and corporate retreats to the oil and gas industry, particularly in West Texas’ Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas where production is booming.

One such spot is Rosewood Ranch about 20 miles southeast of Dallas, which has set aside land for a nature preserve that draws birders, hunters and school groups. Manager Richard Braddock said the ranch is “running half the cattle we used to.”

Oil and gas company executives have also been interested in buying up land from ranchers looking to get out of the business, said Bart Miller, the managing broker at Mason & Morse Ranch Company LLC.

But so far most ranchers in Texas have been loath to sell. Instead, they’re looking for ways to make it work.

Anderson is just beginning his hunting business. And Dauses wants to rebuild her herd, but is doing what she can for now to ensure she’s in ranching for the long haul, explaining, “I got a job in town because that’s what it took.”

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/12/20/3550887_texas-ranchers-seeking-alternative.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

3,424 Deeded Acres of Off-Grid Montana Rangeland to Sell at Sealed-Bid Auction

October 7th, 2014

Mason & Morse Ranch Company to Conduct Event Running Through November 4th, 2014

October 7, 2014 (KANSAS CITY, Mo.) – Serious investors will soon have the opportunity of a lifetime to bid on a prime piece of Montana rangeland at auction. Wyant Creek Ranch, outside of Forsyth, Mont., will be offered to the public during a sealed-bid auction running through Nov. 4. This property is offered in two tracts being either its entirety of approximately 3,424 acres or the northern tract of approximately 1,173 acres.

Wyant Creek Ranch is off-grid property using solar, wind and generators for the buildings and six water wells. This sustainable property includes open rangeland with native grasses, grading into sage and forested hills providing excellent habitat for native wildlife populations.

“The hunting and recreational possibilities are numerous,” said Bart Miller, managing broker of Mason & Morse Ranch Company. “The wildlife consists of mule deer, white-tail deer, antelope, elk, turkey, and grouse. Additionally, snowmobile, cross-country ski, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing the Yellowstone River are just minutes away.”

The property consists of one contiguous block and offers privacy and seclusion, yet within close proximity to Interstate 94 and the town of Forsyth. The ranch is currently running cattle and a few horses.

“The current owner estimates the carrying capacity as 100 AU or 180 pair for the summer,” Miller said. “This could be improved upon with additional fencing for rotational grazing. There are over 200 acres of the ranch that would be ideal for farming development.”

The home, built in 2000, features a second-floor deck, walk-out daylight lower level. The residence is just less than 4,000 square feet with four finished bedrooms. It includes a kitchen and dining room on upper level, two full bathrooms, a den with kitchenette on the lower level, metal roof, fireplace, wood stove, propane GFA heating (1,000-gallon tank), solar electric with two 400-WATT wind generators, plus a back-up gas generator. To top it off, the home has a crow’s nest/cupula with 360-degree views along with fenced landscaping.

The property also features a shop, corrals, well with a 1,000-gallon cistern, septic, as well as satellite and fiber-optic phone service.

For more information on Wyant Creek Ranch or to learn about the terms and conditions of the auction, call 970-928-7100 or email Tammy Ward at [email protected]. View all of Mason & Morse Ranch Company’s real estate listings at Ranchland.com.

Mason & Morse Ranch Company Will Facilitate a 1,616.34+/- Acre Absolute Auction along the Pecos River

June 11th, 2014


June 10th, 2014 (Santa Fe, New Mexico.) – Mason & Morse Ranch Company, of Aspen, Colo ., – “A Strategic Partner of United Country Real Estate has been selected to Auction the 1616.34+/- acre Pecos River Ranch Retreat, located just 35 minutes from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Pecos River Ranch Retreat offers 1,616.34+/- acres of usable and scenic land featuring roughly a mile of the winding Pecos River and views of Rowe Mesa and the Pecos & Rowe Valley. The northeast portion of the property borders BLM and state land with additional access to the Santa Fe National Forest. The land is gentle rolling featuring mature piñon and juniper trees, ponds, meandering cow creek, as well as flat grasslands and an arroyo running through the property.  Included in the sale is a diverse set of improvements and infrastructure, offering a total of 70,000+/- square feet of living and event space.

For a number of years in its most recent incarnation, the Pecos River Ranch Retreat served as the campus for the former Native American Preparatory School. “The school sought to provide educational opportunities in a college preparatory environment for Native American students.” Said Bill Logue, Pecos River Ranch LLC representative.  Since the closure of the school, the property has been under the careful care of an onsite property manager.


The location of the property is only 35 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico and is tucked away in the expanse of New Mexico’s scenic beauty. “The possibilities are unique for a variety of buyers seeking a river ranch, fishing property, horse riding lands, recreational or commercial asset bordering BLM and state land with over a mile of Pecos River frontage.” Said Bart Miller, Managing Broker Mason Morse Ranch Company. “Interested bidders are encouraged to review more details about the auction process by going to www.ranchland.com/pecosriver .”

Other notable properties bordering the Pecos River include the “Pecos River Ranch” previously owned by Val Kilmer. “The Santa Fe New Mexican previously reported that the actor sold most of his 5,328-acre Pecos River ranch in San Miguel County, N.M. to a Texas oil and gas executive and his wife. The deed transfer was recorded on Sept 30th, 2011.”

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Kilmer had been asking for $33 million when he put the property up for sale in 2009, but reduced the price to $18.5 million. A San Miguel County Clerk told the publication that Kilmer kept 14 acres for himself. The Pecos River Ranch is about 22 miles northeast of Santa Fe, with wildlife, 10 natural springs, world-class fishing and more than 50 miles of hiking and biking on a beautiful trail system.

About the Pecos River

The Pecos River flows through New Mexico and Texas, emptying into the Rio Grande. The headwaters of the Pecos River are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, United States, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County. The river flows for 926 miles through the eastern portion of New Mexico and the neighboring state of Texas before it empties into the Rio Grande near Del Rio. The river’s drainage basin is approximately 44,300 square miles in size.   The river was named “Pecos” by the Spanish from the Keresan name of the Pecos Pueblo. The river played a large role in the exploration of southwest by the Spanish. In the latter half of the 19th century, “West of the Pecos” was a reference to the rugged frontiers of the Wild West.  New Mexico and Texas disputed water rights to the river until the federal government settled the dispute in 1949 with the Pecos River Compact. The Pecos River Settlement Agreement was signed between New Mexico and Texas in 2003.   On June 6, 1990, 20.5 miles of the Pecos River—from its headwaters to the town site of Tererro—received National Wild and Scenic River designation. It includes 13.5 miles designated “wild” and 7 miles designated “recreational.”   Water conservation practices on the Pecos River are overseen by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, along with the state engineer of New Mexico, the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District, and the Carlsbad Irrigation District in the upper river valley. The Red Bluff Water Power Control District, along with its seven water improvement districts, oversees water use in the lower valley and works to provide equitable distribution of water supplies.

About Mason & Morse Ranch Company, Strategic Partner of United Country:

“Ranches Farms Land Sales” – www.ranchland.com, affiliate of United Country Real Estate, is a leading provider of ranch, farm, timber and recreational land brokerage & auction services across the United States. Founded in 1998, in the Roaring Fork Valley near Aspen, Colorado, the company specializes in marketing high-value and large acreage properties across the U.S. Combined, Mason & Morse Ranch Company agents offer their clients more than 133 years of combined experience in ranch, farm, timber and recreational real estate sales.  Recently recognized by The Land Report as one of America’s Top Brokerages, “Spring Edition, and 2014 Featuring America’s Top Brokerages.”

Mason & Morse Ranch Company – Strategic Partner of United Country Real Estate is separately owned and operated from Mason Morse – Coldwell Banker of Aspen, Colo.

For Addition Information Contact Bart Miller via [email protected] or 877-207-9700.

Mason & Morse Ranch Company Expands Services with MineralMarketing.com

April 14th, 2014

Ranch, Farm, Timber Recreational Land Sales Firm Creates U.S. Mineral Marketing Relationship

April 9th, 2014 (DENVER, Colo.) – Mason & Morse Ranch Company, LLC, of Aspen, Colo., has formed a strategic relationship with MineralMarketing.com a nation-wide mineral marketing company with services specifically designed for marketing American oil & gas assets.

The strategic relationship will expand Mason Morse Ranch Company’s ranch and farm land marketing services by offering clients an option of marketing for sale or acquiring oil and gas minerals across the U.S.

“As a company, we believe in delivering experience to our clients in all areas when buying or selling land. Minerals are a key component to every real estate transaction, which is why our firm developed this exclusive relationship with one of America’s most recognized mineral experts around the country,” said Bart Miller, managing broker of Mason & Morse Ranch Company.  “Our company values align well with Mineralmarketing.com. Their executive team brings an incredible amount of experience to our firm when dealing specifically with the sale or acquisition of mineral rights by land owners and investors.”

“Mason & Morse Ranch Company is an excellent fit with MineralMarketing.com and we look forward to providing professional oil and gas mineral rights consultation, marketing, leasing and disposition strategies to their base of affluent cliental,” said Shawn Terrel, chief operations officer of MineralMarketing.com.  “They have a very strong knowledge of marketing premier ranches, income producing farms, timberland and luxury recreational land and we feel fortunate to be able to offer our oil and gas energy focused programs as a compliment to their services across the U.S.”

 About Mason & Morse Ranch Company, Strategic Partner of United Country:

“Ranches Farms Land Sales” – www.ranchland.com, affiliate of United Country Real Estate, is a leading provider of ranch, farm, timber and recreational land brokerage services across the United States. Founded in 1998, in the Roaring Fork Valley near Aspen, Colorado, the company specializes in marketing high-value and large acreage properties across the U.S. Combined, Mason & Morse Ranch Company agents offer their clients more than 133 years of combined experience in ranch, farm, timber and recreational real estate sales.  Recently recognized by The Land Report as one of America’s Top Brokerages, “Spring Edition, 2013 Featuring America’s Top Brokerages.” 

About MineralMarketing.com:

MineralMarketing.com is headquartered in Alva, Oklahoma with regional offices and representatives throughout the U.S. The target areas of our operations are focused on active plays and developing trends across the country. MineralMarketing.com is a nation-wide marketing company providing quality promotional services specifically designed for American oil & gas assets.  Our detailed approach to the energy market generates successful transactions from a qualified portfolio of prospective buyers comprised of investors, producers, operators and publically-traded corporations with nearly unlimited purchasing power. By combining the influence of these prospects we ensure a complete market for all oil & gas assets. We are aggressively pursuing targets in most major plays across the United States and are actively uncovering new opportunities to better serve our clients. Our company’s offerings include the leasing, acquisition and divestiture of: Oil & Gas Mineral Rights, Producing & Non-producing Mineral Interests, Oil & Gas Royalty Interests, Working Interests, Overriding Royalty Interests, Oil & Gas Service Companies, Operations, Facilities, Equipment, Infrastructure and Leasehold A&D. We offer privately-negotiated sales strategies, lease consulting and marketing, and auction services.

Mason & Morse Ranch Company Forms Strategic Partnership

March 13th, 2014

Ranch, Farm, Recreational Land Firm Supports Lifestyle Property Giant’s Vast Network of Affiliates

March 13, 2013 (DENVER, Colo.) – The owners of Mason & Morse Ranch Company, LLC, of Aspen, Colo., have announced they are extending their relationship with United Country Real Estate, the nation’s largest seller of non-urban agriculture and lifestyle properties. This comes in the form of a continuation of Mason & Morse Ranch Company’s affiliation with the rural real estate company, as well as a new strategic partnership that will benefit all of United Country’s roughly 4,000 professional brokers, agents and auctioneers across the U.S.

This strategic partnership will allow affiliates of the United Country Real Estate franchise system to work in collaboration with the team at Mason & Morse Ranch Company in securing and marketing high-value land properties such as working ranches, pastureland, grassland, large production agricultural farms, luxury mountain ranches, guest ranches, timberland, hunting and recreational lands across the U.S.

“United Country’s legacy of innovation and industry leadership supports our founding principles and the vision we have for Mason & Morse Ranch Company,” said Bart Miller, managing broker of Mason & Morse Ranch Company. “Our two companies recognize each other’s specialized background and experience in the ‘non-urban’ real estate market. At Mason & Morse Ranch Company, we’ve found great value in our partnership with United Country and are looking forward to offering our knowledge and expertise with large acreage and high-value land transaction to United Country’s international network of real estate land professionals.”

“Mason & Morse Ranch Company is a perfect and natural fit within our organization and we look forward the expansion of our already successful partnership,” said Dan Duffy, chief executive officer of United Country Real Estate. “Their expertise and knowledge of marketing premier ranches, large production farms, timberland and luxury recreational land is an excellent complement to our services and affiliate offices across the U.S.”

Gila National Forest Ranch Hits the Real Estate Market

February 26th, 2014

Denver, Colo. (PRWEB) February 25, 2014

Few people can claim to own a property in United States with no address, but now buyers will have the opportunity to make this happen. Mason & Morse Ranch Company – Strategic Partner of United Country is offering a unique ranch – located in the Gila National Forest – to the public.

“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said John Stratman, broker associate and a principal owner of Mason & Morse Ranch Company – Strategic Partner of United Country. “Rainy Mesa Ranch rests approximately 25 miles east of Reserve, New Mexico, and deep in the Gila National Forest. It offers some of the best big game hunting opportunities in the Continental U.S. and is blessed with a remote location, rugged terrain, live water and plentiful game. The size and scope of Rainy Mesa makes it a trophy ranch property with excellent value.”

Rainy Mesa Ranch consists of approximately 350 deeded acres, with 54,000 acres of National Forest grazing rights and controls geographic access to a significant block of Federal lands. The permit allows for 320 head of cattle and 14 horses year round. The ranch is improved with a Lodge and four homes including a guest home/cabins and a manager’s residence. It is bisected by Negrito Creek, a year-round spring-fed stream, and has five water rights allowing for irrigation, agriculture, commercial, domestic, stock or other purposes. There are four trout ponds on the property that are, or have been, stocked and are on automatic feeders. Additionally, the ranch has been operated by a professional manager and hunting guide who has expressed an interest in continuing in his capacity.

“The ranch features spectacular hunting combined with a viable ranch operation,” Stratman said. “Its end-of-the-road location offers extreme privacy with the comfort of excellent improvements. Western New Mexico is known for its trophy-quality large game animals where the climate, elevation and food sources allow the animals to have large body sizes, and genetics have blessed them with large horns as well.”

For more information on this unique opportunity, contact Mason & Morse Ranch Company – Strategic Partner of United Country at 877-207-9700, or visit RanchLand.com.

The Best in the Land Business to Convene at the 2014 National Land Conference

February 11th, 2014

Bart Miller Managing Broker and a principle owner of Mason Morse Ranch Company is the current Colorado RLI chapter president. He will be attending the 2014 National Land Conference in Charleston SC.

February 5, 2014 (Chicago, IL)–The 2014 National Land Conference: If Land Could Talk, produced by the REALTORS® Land Institute will bring together land professionals from around the United States and Canada in Charleston, SC, March 12-14 to learn from expert presenters, network with peers, make money, and celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Institute.

Attendees will explore future business trends during 15 general sessions and 20 “hot topic” roundtables led by industry experts on issues including the economy, energy sector exploration, land investment opportunities, land conservation, investment opportunities, hydraulic fracturing, new technology, social media, and marketing.

A new Meet, Greet, and Make Money event will generate new business on the first day of the meeting. Participants will connect with peers during one-minute pitches and a marketing collateral and business card swap. Networking will continue throughout the conference during a Bourbon and Boots inaugural reception for George Clift, ALC, 2014 National Institute President; a 70th Anniversary Luncheon commemorating the Institute’s past, present, and future; the one and only Greatest Cowboy Auction on Earth, and a celebration of culture during a musical performance of Charleston’s a cappella Gullah group, the Magnolia Singers.

George Clift, ALC, 2014 National Institute President encourages land professionals to attend, “This is the ‘place to be’ for land experts planning to find success in 2014.  With the ever-changing marketplace, building on knowledge and staying current on market trends and techniques is the key to success. Convene with the best-in-the business to learn from world renowned presenters, to make connections, and to make money.”

About the REALTORS® Land Institute, 
The REALTORS® Land Institute is the professional membership organization for real estate practitioners who specialize in land transactions. An affiliate organization of the National Association of REALTORS®, the Institute provides a wide range of programs and services that build knowledge, relationships, and business opportunities for the best in the land business. Through its best-in-class LandU curriculum, the REALTORS® Land Institute confers its Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation to only those real estate practitioners who achieve the highest levels of education, experience, and professionalism. For more information visit www.rliland.com.

Wheat Market Update

October 1st, 2013

By Steve Kaufman/Northwest Farm Credit Services

Weather and markets are intrinsically related for Northwest wheat growers entering summer. Key drivers impacting producers’ bottom line include: 1) Precipitation: Producers in Montana received up to 10” of rain between May and June. Precipitation deficits in Washington and Idaho were stabilized with mid- and late June rains, while Oregon growers generally face rain deficits. 2) Crop conditions: Above average crops are expected in Montana. Yields are expected to be average in Washington and Idaho and below average in northeastern Oregon. 3) GMO market response: After initially falling, soft white wheat markets rebounded following identification of isolated GMO wheat in an Oregon farmer’s field. 4) Tight old crop corn stocks: Wheat continues to enjoy support from corn. Most producers have sold their entire 2012 crop and up to 35 percent of their 2013 crop. 5) Uncertain markets going forward: Although world wheat ending stocks are only forecast up slightly in 2013/14, a large corn crop may drive feed grain and wheat prices lower. 6) Crop insurance risk management: Montana growers have aggressively purchased hail insurance, attempting to protect a bumper crop. Wheat produces in other areas should mitigate losses with crop insurance provided revenue protection.


Grain growing regions in the Northwest reflect extremes, with crop conditions ranging from above average in Montana to below average in North Central and Northeastern Oregon. Second quarter agronomic practices included increased input costs associated with rust (i.e. fungus) control in some areas. Harvest is expected to be near historic dates. Most producers have sold their entire 2012 crop and forward contracted between 25 to 35 percent of their 2013 crop. Where crop losses may occur, producers with crop insurance have a revenue floor providing financial security.

Throughout Central and Eastern Montana, May and June rains have reversed drought-like conditions. Precipitation totals range between several inches to 10 or more inches. Dry conditions in Washington and Northern Idaho were also alleviated with mid- and late June rains. In North Central and Northeastern Oregon, high temperatures and too little rain parched wheat crops on lighter soils.

Expectations are for above average wheat crops in Montana. Crops should be average in Washington and Northern Idaho, while below average yields are anticipated in Eastern Oregon.

High precipitation has resulted in only limited spraying for leaf rust in Montana. Rust is a fungus that is relatively uncommon in Montana, but frequently associated with above average precipitation in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Left untreated, yield losses due to rust can be as high as 50 percent. Although farmers in Washington and Northern Idaho have struggled with below average precipitation, many have sprayed for rust, noting infestations associated with limited rain, but cooler temperatures. The costs of spraying for rust are approximately $10 per acre (including aerial application).

With strong yields expected, wheat producers in Montana have purchased above average levels of hail insurance, attempting to secure a bumper crops reward. In drier areas, crop insurance will play a key role in offsetting producers’ losses where yields are below average. Overall, crop insurance should assure wheat growers’ financial security in 2013.

Wheat producers should initiate harvest near historic dates, with early indications suggesting harvest as early as the first week of July in North Central Oregon. Land values remain strong, bolstered by producers’ sense of scarcity or strategic purchases. However, higher land prices are generally not reflected in higher cash rents.

In Northwest wheat industry news, the USDA reports no indication that genetically modified soft white wheat found in an Oregon farmer’s field spread beyond the field. Japan and Korea have temporarily suspended imports of western white wheat as the USDA investigates. Northwest white wheat markets have rebounded after initially falling in response to the news.

U.S. and Global Wheat Markets

All wheat planted acres are projected at 56.5 million with the USDA’s June 30, 2013 Acreage Report, up 1 percent from last year. Old wheat stocks in the USDA’s June 30, 2013 Grain Stocks Report totaled 718 million bushels June 1, 2013, down 3 percent from June 1, 2012. Acreage and stock reports are initially bearish to neutral, pressured by ample wheat stocks.

The USDA forecasts 2013/14 U.S. wheat production of 2.080 billion bushels, 8.3 percent lower than estimated 2012/13 production. Total 2013/14 U.S. wheat supplies are also projected lower, down 5.8 percent from 2012/13, limited by lower production. United States total projected 2013/14 wheat use is down 3.9 percent, slowed primarily by lower feed and residual uses and exports, down 19.4 and 3.5 percent respectively. Wheat feeding is expected to be less attractive by late summer, limited by large supplies and lower prices for feed grains. Strong crops in major exporting countries are projected to limit exports in 2013/14. Ending U.S. 2013/14 stocks are forecast at 659 million bushels, down 11.7 percent from 2012/13. United States ending stocks to use of 28.7 percent for 2013/14 is substantially higher than the record low of 13.2 percent in 2007/08.

Lower U.S. production is due to 2.1 million fewer expected harvested acres in 2013/14 and a forecasted yield of 46.1 bushels per acre, down 1.1 bushels from 2012/13. Hard Red Winter wheat production is down most significantly at 781 million bushels, 223 million bushels lower than a year ago. Factors constraining hard red winter wheat production include a forecasted lower planted area, higher expected abandonment rate and reduced yield due to drought and spring freeze damage. Conversely, soft red winter wheat production is forecast up 89 million bushels from 2012/13 at 509 million bushels, while soft white winter wheat production of 219 million bushels is forecast down 3 million bushels from the prior year. Overall, year-over-year winter wheat conditions are poorer, with 43 percent of the crop rating ‘Very Poor’ or ‘Poor’ as of July 16 compared to only 17 percent of the crop with similar ratings in 2012.

Wheat graph


The World Agricultural Outlook Board projects 2013/14 world wheat ending stocks of 181.3 million metric tons, up 0.8 percent from 2012/13, but 9.1 percent lower than 2011/12. The projected yearover- year increase in ending stocks is partially attributed to higher forecasted production in 2013/14, up 6.1 percent from 2012/13 and 4 percent greater than the 5-year average. At 181.3 million metric tons, 2013/14 ending stocks to use is 26.2 percent; above the historic low of 21.0 percent stocks to use in 2007/08. Chinese ending wheat stocks of 62 million metric tons account for 34 percent of global ending wheat stocks.

Although Russian and Ukrainian wheat production is up a forecasted 37 percent from 2012/13, both areas face production challenges. A six-week period of extreme heat with little rain beginning in the second half of April and lasting through mid- to late May is expected to reduce wheat yields. Similarly, Russia’s South District (bordering Ukraine) experienced a heat wave during wheat flowering and early filling with the number of days with temperatures above 86o F nearly four times higher than the 30- year average.

Global wheat exports are forecast at 144.1 million metric tons in 2013/14, 3.5 percent higher than 2012/13, but 9.1 percent lower than 2011/12. U.S. Wheat Associates reports the Russian government recently announced its intentions to limit wheat exports to 20.0 million metric tons, responding to lower winter wheat production in its South and attempting to rebuild domestic grain stocks. The USDA forecasts 2013/14 Russian exports at 17 million metric tons. Notwithstanding these developments, projected tightening in U.S. ending stocks is likely to limit U.S. 2013/14 export prospects.

wheat stocks


U.S. Wheat Associates highlights from the June 12, 2013 USDA 2013/14 wheat supply and demand estimates include:

1. Strong production in the Black Sea region, with production up 34 percent from 2012/13; and Indian production at 92.0 million metric tons, down 3 percent from 2012/13, but still the second largest on record.

2. Record wheat consumption of 691 million metric tons in 2013/14, up 2 percent from 2012/13.

3. The second highest world wheat fee use on record at 134 million metric tons.

4. More trade, rising 4 percent from 2012/13 to 144 million metric tons, 1 percent greater than the 5- year average.

5. Rising exports from the Black Sea and India and lower exports from the U.S. and EU in 2013/14.

a. Black Sea exports are forecast to rebound 31 percent to 33.2 million metric tons.

b. Indian exports are forecast at a record 8.0 million metric tons.

6. Lower world beginning stocks, falling 10 percent from 2012/13 to 180 million metric tons.

a. But, U.S. 2013/14 beginning stocks of 20.3 million metric tons, 5 percent above the 5-year average.


The USDA’s 2013/14 season-average farm price for all wheat is projected at $6.25 to $7.55 per bushel; down from the record $7.80 per bushel expected for 2012/13. Daniel O’Brian, Extension Agricultural Economist with Kansas State, proposes uncertainty surrounding 2013/14 global wheat production, concern surrounding the U.S. hard red winter wheat crop, and cross market support from extremely tight U.S. feed grain supplies are likely to support wheat prices through early summer 2013. Longer-term, wheat prices face pressure from larger corn supplies and lower corn prices in the fall of 2013. Northwest FCS analysts estimate wheat producers’ break even price at approximately $6.50 to $7.00 per bushel.

For more information or to share your thoughts and opinions, please contact Steve Kaufman at 509-397-2809 or by email at [email protected]

Hay Market Snapshot

September 12th, 2013

By Jeff Osborne/Northwest Farm Credit Services

Hay prices have the potential to increase significantly in 2013, but the outlook is unclear. Drivers most impacting the market in the Northwest include: 1) Weather: First cutting alfalfa has been challenging in the Northwest with untimely and frequent rains. Crop damage has been widespread across the region, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Damage is most severe in the Columbia Basin. 2) Irrigation water shortages: Despite the wet conditions, growers in Oregon’s Klamath Basin and Southwestern Idaho face early shut-off of irrigation water. 3) Tight hay supplies: Old crop hay supplies in the Northwest were at near-record lows ahead of first cutting. Quality alfalfa is in particularly short supply. This situation is likely to find limited improvement this season, given early season production challenges and limited acreage increases. 4) Variable demand: Limited hay supplies are expected to establish a solid price floor in the hay market, but uncertainty with Northwest export demand and dairy industry profitability have the potential to limit hay price increases.

Local Markets

In the Washington-Oregon Columbia Basin, first cutting alfalfa is complete with some growers working on second cutting. Hay harvest and trade slowed significantly in June due to persisting rains. Rain damage is extensive and impacted nearly all of the area’s first cutting. Second cutting delays continued into the final week of June with some alfalfa at risk of becoming over-mature.

At the end of June, the price for premium quality alfalfa ranged between $215 and $225 per ton at the stack, compared to $210 at the end of March. The ongoing shortage of high quality alfalfa in the Columbia Basin – due to early season rains the past three seasons – has only provided limited price support so far this season. Exporters have shown limited interest in Columbia Basin alfalfa so far. Prices were $240 per ton for premium export hay one year ago. Depending on the extent of rain damage, good quality alfalfa sold for $190 to $215 at the stack, while feeder quality sold for $165 to $175 per ton. Those prices are similar to year ago levels. Timothy hay is in high demand again this year, but severe rain damage in the Columbia Basin and Kittitas Valley will limit the availability of higher grades of timothy. Prices for premium timothy are between $270 and $325 per ton based on market and bale size. That compares to $250 to $320 per ton last year.

In Idaho, growers are more than 75 percent finished with first cutting. Cool weather during the initial harvest slowed curing and put producers behind schedule. The majority of the crop was baled in good condition, but alfalfa still on the ground at the end of June was impacted by rain.

Idaho’s alfalfa market is showing strong demand and prices given tight supplies and the expectation of irrigation water shortages (especially in southwestern Idaho). Dairy buyers have been active in the market, with purchases supported by improved profitability. At the end of June, supreme quality alfalfa sold for $240 per ton at the stack, and premium alfalfa sold for between $225 and $235. Premium quality alfalfa prices have improved by approximately $25 per ton since the end of last quarter. Good  alfalfa sold for $215 to $220 at the stack. Feeder quality hay sold $190 to $200, similar to prices experienced over the past six months.

In Oregon’s Klamath Basin, first cutting is nearly complete, with approximately 50 to 60 percent of baled without rain damage. Producers generally report good quality, but mixed yields with some light crops due to frost earlier this season. The early market is slower than many expected, but with some interest from exporters and dairies. Prices for premium to supreme quality alfalfa range between $220 and $230 at the stack. That is up from $205 and $215 for old crop last quarter, but down from $250 for alfalfa last June. There were no confirmed sales of feeder quality hay to report at the end of June; however, demand for feeder hay is expected up this year. The area is struggling with drought. Upper Klamath Basin hay growers may see lower production due to irrigation water cuts. Irrigation water is already being shutoff to thousands of acres of irrigated pasture. Local ranchers are expected to supplement lost pasture with hay.

Montana hay growers have seen significant improvement in dryland crops due to recent rains. The USDA Market News reports that there were no confirmed sales of hay in Montana the week of June 16, but demand is good for all types of hay. Demand is reportedly best from out of state buyers, who are making offers near last year’s drought-driven prices. According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Montana alfalfa prices reached a peak of $170 per ton this March and averaged $140 per ton in 2012. In contrast statewide alfalfa prices averaged $98 per ton in 2011. Montana cattle producers have seen improved conditions for pasture and rangeland, but will likely seek additional feeder hay this year to assure adequate winter feed and begin rebuilding hay stocks.

Hay Supplies

Precipitation and Irrigation: Prevailing weather and the availability of irrigation water are impacting hay production in the Northwest and California in 2013. As detailed above, the Northwest saw widespread rain damage on first cutting hay, and limited irrigation water supplies will impact growers’ production decisions. Hay growers in areas with irrigation cuts are likely to take fewer cuttings this year. To compensate, growers are likely to focus on maximizing yields at the expense of quality. Given these factors, high quality hay is likely to remain in short supply throughout the season. Southwestern Idaho hay production is threatened by early conclusion to water deliveries. The Boise Project Board of Control, which supplies water to the Treasure Valley, announced a 53 percent cut in water allotments, with shutoff slated for the first part of September.

Access to irrigation water is a contentious issue in the Klamath Basin. Klamath Falls hay growers expect they’ll have enough water to get through the end of summer by using a combination of ground idling, well pumping and other strategies. The number of alfalfa cuttings, though, will likely be limited to three versus four. The situation is particularly difficult for producers in the upper basin, where the Klamath Tribes and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation exercised senior water rights, and shutoffs have already begun. Adjudication of the basin water rights was completed in March, confirming that the tribes have the most senior water rights in the upper basin. The March action reversed the situation that occurred during the 2001 drought. The bureau shut off irrigation to most of the project, but cattle ranchers in the upper basin still had water to irrigate.

California hay production has not been immune to weather challenges this season. USDA Market News reported that California experienced its seventh warmest spring on record. Alfalfa in California’s Central Valley is competing with permanent crops for limited irrigation water. Some growers have stopped irrigating alfalfa and have abandoned fields after limited cuttings. Producers in far Northern California experienced similar conditions to Oregon producers in Klamath Falls. Late June rains impacted hay production, while yields losses from a May frost are now being realized. Hot and dry conditions in Southern and Southeast California, coupled with strong winds have made bailing difficult.

Stocks: The May 10 USDA-NASS Crop Production report reveals that May 1 hay stocks in the Northwest were down 33.2 percent year-over-year, led by a significant decrease in Montana. California stocks rebounded above 2011 lows to near historical levels.

NW & Cali chart2

Acreage and Production Potential: Low stocks were met with limited acreage increases in the Northwest this year. According to the June 28 Acreage Report from the USDA, acres of hay for harvest in the Northwest are projected up 10.5 percent, led by a 22.7 percent increase in Montana. Hay acreage decreased an estimated 1.3 percent in Washington, and 2.0 percent in Oregon. Hay acreage is increased 6.7 percent in Idaho, while California is expected to see a 7.7 percent decline.

Based on production challenges, the Northwest and California aren’t likely to significantly rebuild hay stocks this year. The table below projects 2013 hay production using figures from the USDA Acreage Report and a three year average yield. Higher year-over-year yields shown might be achieved as hay growers attempt to maximize hay tonnage this year. Even if overall hay production increases, the market isn’t likely to find a surplus of high quality alfalfa or timothy.

projected hay

Domestic and Export Situation

Beef Cattle: Although pasture conditions in most areas of Montana have improved, beef cattle producers are likely to seek additional hay to begin rebuilding stocks. Forage shortages and dry conditions continue to plague cattle ranchers in areas of Idaho and Oregon. Demand for feeder quality hay in affected regions is likely to receive a boost this summer. Extreme drought conditions persist throughout the mid-section of the country, including in South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma, which may boost demand for Northwest hay.

Dairy: Demand for hay from Northwest dairies has increased. Milk prices improved during the first half of 2013, and most Northwest producers are profitable at this time. Interest in higher quality hay is evident in higher hay prices in Idaho. California dairies continue to experience weak profit margins, due to limited milk price increases and high feed costs. Markets for alternative feeds will also influence dairies’ decisions and ultimately hay prices in 2013. Corn prices fell following the USDA’s  June 28 report on current corn stocks and production potential for the 2013 crop. Lower corn prices are likely to pressure hay prices down.

Exports: Northwest exporters have shown limited interest in Columbia Basin alfalfa so far this season. Aside from a lack of availability, export buyers are being cautious not to bid up the price of higher quality alfalfa given changing export market dynamics. The Northwest faces high shipping costs. Export business has shifted over the last few years to California, where costs are approximately $300 per container to ship hay from Los Angeles or Long Beach versus an average price of $1,000 per container to ship from Portland or Seattle. A rough estimate suggests that noncompetitive shipping costs place a $25 per ton premium on Northwest hay. Buyers in China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the two fastest growing hay export markets, are more sensitive to high prices than Japanese buyers have historically been. (Japanese buyers tend to place emphasis on hay quality. However, Japanese buyers are facing currency devaluation relative to the U.S. dollar that is beginning to make hay imports less affordable.) Given these factors, some Northwest exporters have positioned to take advantage of export market growth out of California by aligning with growers located in the Pacific Southwest or building facilities near Southern California ports.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, hay export market share continues to shift from the Northwest to California. Combined export volume for 2013 from California and the Northwest was down 0.7 percent year to date as of April, but exports from California ports were up 25.6 percent. Northwest exports are down 18.5 percent year to date. Referencing the graph below, California export volume outpaced the Northwest in February, March, and April.

hay export volume


Tepid demand from exporters is limiting price increases for Washington hay, while increased demand from dairies is supporting strong alfalfa prices in Idaho. It appears increased export demand and short supplies in California are boosting hay prices in many areas of the state despite dairy industry struggles.

Tight supplies of high quality alfalfa and timothy have seen limited relief following first cutting in the Northwest. Between rain damage and irrigation water shortages overall hay supplies are likely to remain tight throughout the year. Looking ahead, there won’t be many new alfalfa stands planted in Southwestern Idaho and the Klamath Falls area this fall due to lack of water.

Limited supplies will help establish a fairly solid price floor in the hay market; however, buyers will likely remain cautious moving forward. Improved export demand for Northwest hay and continued profitability for Northwest dairies will support alfalfa price increases, but buyers in both segments will focus on keeping bids low. Lower hay prices will help Northwest exporters be more competitive with California, and lower feed costs will help dairies to weather potential milk price volatility.

Corn has been a favored substitute in feed rations, leaving alfalfa prices susceptible to changes in the corn market. Given the June reports from the USDA, corn prices should pressure hay prices lower.

Although break-even levels can vary significantly among regions and specific growers, alfalfa prices between $175 and $200 per ton will generally result in a strong return to most growers. While projected profit margins are attractive, the hay market remains risky given uncertainty in the dairy sector, limited growth in Northwest hay exports, and softness in the corn market.

For more information or to share your thoughts and opinions, please contact Jeff Osborne at 208-732-1034 or by email at [email protected]