Big demand for wheat straw
WHEAT straw is making big money at auction, as the first loads of the season arrive in markets.
At Chelford, Cheshire, on Monday, a top of £50/t was taken for small bales, with an average of £42/t.
"Thats a lot of money for this time of year," says auctioneer David Russell, who recalls values of nearer half that 12 months ago.
Some farmers are housing stock in the face of heavy rain, says Mr Russell. "We have had, at most, four days of consecutive sunshine."
So not only is straw wanted immediately for bedding – but the amount needed is also higher, in the face of abattoirs tighter requirements for clean animals.
Farmers are the main forage buyers at the moment, with just a handful going to horse-buyers at Chelford on Monday. But with the fall in milk prices, dairy producers must be careful how much they spend, he says.
"They have to look at every penny. I hope there will be sufficient quantities of straw on offer to keep the prices sensible."
And this season, more than last year, farmers will buy when they need straw. "A hand-to-mouth existence," as Uttoxeter auctioneer Frank Hood puts it.
John Shayler of Taylor and Fletcher says, however, that buyers – particularly of barley straw – have already bought in the swath or baled in big quantities, fearful of a repeat of higher prices later.
Buyers from Wales, for example, have been out in force, says Mr Shayler. "If you see the lorries here in the summer, you dont see them in the winter."