The release of the October milk production report on Nov. 15 dashed any hope that milk prices would recover in the immediate future. Instead, the report once again showed strong cow numbers and an increase in milk per cow. As such, October milk production climbed 2.3 percent — to 12 billion pounds —   in the top-20 dairy states compared to a year ago.

The USDA also revised its September milk production estimate. September revised production — announced at 11.7 billion pounds — is up 2.5 percent versus September 2001. That, however, is a decrease of 91 million pounds, or 0.7 percent, compared to the USDA’s preliminary estimate released during October.

Milk output per cow averaged 1,544 pounds during October, or about 51 pounds per cow per day. The monthly average also represents an increase of 22 pounds compared to October 2001.

Among the top-20 states, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas led the nation in milk production gains during October — climbing 12 percent, 11.7 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, only five states saw declines in milk output during October. And among those, Kentucky, Minnesota and Florida faired the worst — down 4.6 percent, 4.4 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Cow numbers continue to advance on a year-to-year and monthly basis. The 20-state cow herd totaled 7.79 million head during October — an increase of 67,000 head compared to October 2001 and 8,000 head more than September. October milk-cow numbers in the top-20 states are shown in the table below.

Until cow numbers start to reverse — and dairy-product sales accelerate — expect milk prices to remain low until well into next year.