Standing straw values show sharp rise

Standing straw prices at sales in livestock areas have risen sharply on 2016 levels as buyers look to secure stocks.

Tom Mellor of Greenslade Taylor Hunt in the south-west of England said he had been shocked by some of the prices for the 3,000 acres of straw auctioned at two sales on 3 and 4 July.

Mr Mellor said that catalogued entries were down by about 15% from 3,500 acres in 2016 and every lot of winter wheat, winter barley and oilseed rape straw had been sold.

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For cereal crop straw, prices averaged about £70/acre – up 55% from an average of £45/acre in 2016.

The peak price rise was even greater, with winter wheat topping at £115/acre compared with £62/acre a year ago.

“We predicted that values would be up, based on forecasts of tighter supplies. But the prices have leapt and exceeded all expectations. The peak winter wheat price at £115/acre was a shock,” Mr Mellor said.

The trend was repeated in other parts of the West Country.

Auctioneer Cooper & Tanner reported that its sale at Frome Livestock Market, Somerset, on 5 July was a 100% clearance of the 1,000 acres entered. Prices for wheat straw peaked at £102/acre and averaged £79/acre. That compares with an average of £42/acre in 2016 and a top price of £52/acre.

Trend echoed

Prices were lower further East towards the arable areas but trade at sales in Dorset echoed the same trend and was still far stronger than 2016.

Mark Northcott of auctioneer Symonds & Sampson said that haulage costs to transport straw longer down to the south-west of England had become a bigger factor and put a lower ceiling on prices.

Nevertheless prices at two sales conducted by the auctioneer covering 8,500 acres of wheat, barley oats and oilseed rape were far higher than 2016 levels.

In the west of Dorset, winter wheat averaged £58.58/acre while further east the average was £47.62/acre. A combined average for the sales of £53.10/acre compared with the overall average for winter wheat of £34.30/acre in 2016 – a rise of 55%.

Winter barley straw rose from an average of £46.85/acre in 2016 to an average across both sales of £63.50, an increase of 36%.

Mr Northcott said the increases were down to a number of factors.

He told Farmers Weekly that there had been less straw carried over because many livestock producers housed stock early in the 2016/2017 winter.

“There was also a significant increase in straw exports last winter while more straw is chopped and there is a greater demand from renewable energy power stations,” he said.