16 July 1999

Standing straw costing more than last year

DEMAND for standing straw is just topping last years trade as livestock producers look to secure supplies.

According to the Hay & Straw Merchants Associations Chris Trower the trade expects to pay more this year following a stronger market last winter when forage was short and conditions poor.

But bids have been running ahead of expectations and straw prices in key livestock areas are likely to be stronger this season.

Last weekend, Barber & Son saw winter barley straw reach £87.70/ha (£35.50/acre) near Shrewsbury. That mirrors sales near Hereford where prices of £74-98/ha (£30-40/acre) have been seen, according to merchants.

In Dumfriesshire, a recent offering of 135ha (334 acres) saw oats at £91/ha (£37/acre), winter and spring barley at £74/ha (£30/acre) and wheat at £73/ha (£29.50/acre), according to auctioneers Thomson, Roddick and Laurie.

Demand has been triggered by the increased need for bedding to help keep stock clean ahead of slaughter and that is adding to pressure for supplies.

Calls for barley, which can take top bids, has been spurred on by the likelihood of tighter supplies. "Its on some peoples minds," says Hereford-based merchant Michael Ball.

The Home-Grown Cereals Authority plantings survey suggests a fall of 6.5% across Great Britain in barley area with the largest fall in England. In contrast, wheat area has also declined with a significant drop in Scotland.

In the eastern counties, where prices reflect the larger supply and rising cost of haulage back to livestock areas, Mr Trower says bids of £17-25/ha (£7-10/acre) are what merchants will stand this years supplies.

As costs rise, more producers in the west are looking at alternatives. Abergavenny-based Lyndon Trumper says pea haulm is trading up to £37/ha (£15/acre) for feed and bedding, oilseed rape haulm to £70/ha (£29/acre) and bean haulm to £15/ha (£6/acre). "But volume and quality is variable," he says. &#42