Straw demand strong in north
STRAW trade is more buoyant in the north than the south, fuelled by supply shortages following the poor harvest.
In the south of England, prices have remained fairly static, with traders reporting a quiet time, says secretary of the Hay and Straw Association Christopher Trower.
"Theres a firm trade in the north, from mid-Yorks up." Little movement in the south could be down to farmers having purchased all the straw they need, he says.
In the north west, Chelford markets David Russell says the straw season is just beginning. "I anticipate a shortage of wheat straw, particularly small bales." Small wheat straw bales, have been trading as high as £60/t, he says.
This demand is caused by a combination of horse yards needing small bales, farmers with loose boxes that still require small bales and the fact that fewer small bales are made these days.
Trade at Chelford this week saw big bales of barley straw averaging £50/t, with big wheat straw bales averaging £33/t. However, Mr Russell has noticed that farmers are short of cash and not buying in bulk for the whole winter.
"They are buying more hand to mouth; purchasing just enough straw to tide them over until the next milk cheque," he says.
Further north prices have recently become dearer in Thainstone Market, Inverurie, says Duncan Cooper, as farmers become concerned over straw shortages. Big bales of barley straw have been making £4.60-£7/bale.
"Even straw stored outside has traded at £6-£6.50 a bale," says Mr Cooper. *