By Andrew Wallace
Auctioneer at Beeston Castle Auction, Cheshire

Sales of straw “behind the combine and ready for baling” have been taking place around the country in the past 10 days.

Crops appear to be good and the barley harvest is well under way.

Demand for straw is very localised, often depending on whether any larger stock farms are in easy reach to transport it home and the size of lots on offer. Most will be baled in large, square mini hestons or round bales, with only a few acres in small, conventional bales.

In Cheshire, barley straw in the swath has been typically £136-188/ha and wheat straw from £74-212/ha, but mainly £100-136/ha. Rape straw on a farm near Chester sold from £59-69/ha.

Overall, trade would be about £10-25/ha less. Some usual buyers have changed policy to avoid the gamble on the weather and have ordered loads on the wagon for delivery when they want it, thus helping their cashflow and storage requirements.

In the weekly produce market at Chelford on Monday 14 July, six loads of barley straw made £70-90/t in large, square bales and mini hestons averaged £80/t.

Turning to hay, grass has been plentiful, the weather better than usual and much more has been made. In the market, small-baled hay was a steadier trade than usual at £85-94/t, while big-baled hay was at £52-74/t, with most loads £60-70/t. There appear to be more fields of surplus grass still available for hay/haylage.

Maize crops are ahead of last year with many fields taller than “knee-high on 4 July”. Demand will be good, with expected prices similar to last year at £1,114-1,360/ha according to location, sizes of lot, quality of crop and whether fields are deadly nightshade-free.

Wholecrop wheat demand has been again localised, with a couple of Cheshire fields selling in the £990-1,112/ha price bracket.

Trade Talk, in association with the Livestock Auctioneers Association, brings you a weekly round-up of ringside trade from auctioneers across the country