26 July 2002

Better outlook for straw price

STANDING straw auction prices are looking more realistic after last years high values, with auctioneers reporting barley straw back by up to 38% and wheat 45%.

Bernie Hutchinson, of Market Drayton-based auctioneer Barbers, said that was equivalent to a £10-15/acre fall in values. "Not wholly unexpected. The shear economics of input prices and falling commodity markets means farmers cannot afford high costs for supplies such as straw."

The firms annual auction of standing straw across the Shropshire/Cheshire border saw over 1215ha (3000 acres) go under the hammer. Although barley straw was keenly fought for, pushing bids to £48/acre, it averaged £31. Winter wheat straw topped at £35/acre, to average £20.

"There is still a £10/acre premium for supplies in the right location and near to livestock units," he added.

Farther north on the Scottish borders, auctioneers are bracing themselves for seasonal sales, with almost 365ha (900 acres) offered by tender around Alnwick and Coldstream, reports auctioneers Border Livestock Exchange. &#42

Big bale hay being loaded at George Hunters Manor Farm, Potsgrove, Woburn, Beds, last week. The hay will be winter fodder for the farms, dairy and beef herds. Merchants say the hay market remains weak.