First Flint Hills leasing report in four years reveals all-time high pasture rent rates

Flint Hills pasture lease rates are higher than they have ever been.

Well, certainly the highest on record, according to the Bluestem Pasture Release – 2013, issued May, 7, 2013, by Kanas Agricultural Statistics at the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Dale Rodman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, said funding has not been available for the past three years to complete the survey of leasing rates for the 14-county Bluestem pasture.

However, due to high requests for the information, realignment of financing, and support from outside sources, this is the first official report since 2009, Rodman explained.

Jason Lamprecht, state statistician, expressed, “A special thank you to the 2,200 Kansas Flint Hill’s ranchers and landowners who cooperated with this survey. Without their help, this important information would not be available.”

At the beginning of the 2013 Bluestem pasture grazing season, pasture condition was “rated 16 percent very poor, 41 percent poor, 34 percent adequate, 8 percent good and only 1 percent excellent.”

Lamprecht pointed out, “Only 8 percent of the respondents reported burning of pastures, down from 78 percent in 2009. The average burning date was April 12.”

Most noticeable on the report was the price for pastures rented for all cattle on a per acre basis which this year averaged $21.10 per acre, compared to $19, the previous high reported in 2008.

Of course, lease rates vary considerably if care is provided. Fourteen-county average for all cattle grazed with care was $23.70, while the rate without care averaged $20.40.

The average lease rate for spring calving pairs was $151.20, compared to $133 five years ago. There were only 7.7 acres of pasture guaranteed per pair, compared to eight acres in 2008.

For fall calving pairs, the state average lease price this year is an all-time official high of $149.30 a pair, compared to the previous average high of $132.10 in 2008. Only 7.9 acres of pasture were guaranteed per pair, compared to 8.3 acres four years ago.

Full season yearling grazing rates set records in three categories, with the grass rent for those steers and heifers weighing 700 pounds and more averaging $88.40, compared to $89.60 five years earlier. However, those cattle this year were only guaranteed 3.9 acres of grass, compared to 4.2 in 2006, 4.1 in 2007, and 4 acres in 2009.

Average lease rate for full season yearlings weighing less than 700 pounds was $87.50, compared to a previous high of $71.60 in 2008. Again, the cattle were only guaranteed 3.9 acres of grass, compared to 4.2 acres in 2006, 4.1 in 2007 and 4 acres in 2009.

Further divided into weights, full season grazing rates for steers and heifers weighting from 500 to 699 pounds this year averaged $88.80 per head, well above the high of $73.30 in 2008. These cattle were guaranteed 4 acres of pasture, above the 3.9 and 3.8 acres allowed in 2009 and 2008, respectively, but below the 4.4 in 2007, and 4.2 acres in 2006.

Pasture lease rate for full season grazing lightweight yearlings, those weighing less than 500 pounds, was $84.40, above the previously reported record of $68.20 in 2006. Lightweights were guaranteed 3.8 acres of pasture, compared to 4.3 in 2009.

Short season grazing, 90 days or less, is increasingly popular in the Flint Hills, with those charges were also at record high levels. For Steers and heifers weighing more than 700 pounds, the rate averaged $88.80, compared to previous high of $72.10. However, the heavyweights were guaranteed 3.9 acres of pasture, well above the previous high of 3.6 acres in 2009.

For short season grazing yearlings weighing less than 700 pounds, the average lease rate was $73.20, up from $61.60 reported five years ago. Again those lightweights were guaranteed 3.1 acres of pastures, compared to 2.9 acres in 2007.

Divided in groups, the 500 to 699 pound yearlings are grazing partial season for an average of $74.60, compared to $62.40 in 2009. Those cattle are guaranteed 3.1 acres, compared to 2.9 in 2007.

Lightest yearlings, those under 500 pounds, are grazing short season for an average of $66.70, compared to $61.40 in 2008. They’re guaranteed 3.1 acres of pasture, compared to 3 acres six years ago.

Contracts based on price per pound of gain averaged 42 cents per pound of gain, with a variation from 5 to 70 cents, and no comparison of previous years reported.

Again with no figures listed from previous years, average price for grazing full season cow-calf pairs on a per acre basis is $19.30. Pasture lease rate for all cow-calf pairs, guaranteed 9.4 acres, was $171.60.

Year around full year pasture leasing for fall calving cows is $179.20, with 9.7 acres guaranteed per pair. Spring calving pairs on full year pasture costs $166.50, with 9.3 acres per pair.

An interesting addition to the report was the rate charged for building a five-wire, all- steel post fence. With materials provided, the rate averaged $25.4 per rod, while cost excluding materials was $17.70 per rod. There were additional charges for gates and corner posts.

The average hourly rate charged for fence building is $63.10 per hour, with equipment, and $26.30 without.