Straw prices could reach three or four times those of last year due to poor growing conditions and low over-season stocks, according to experts.
Cumbria-based Agrovista agronomist, Steven Gate says: “There is absolutely no doubt straw is going to be in very short supply - winter barleys are thin with limited tillers due to late autumn planting, a wet early spring and delayed nitrogen applications.
“Winter wheat went through its growth stages very quickly and hence is short in stature.
“A lot of spring barley was sown late into less than ideal seed beds and so got away poorly. Since then, the dry weather has caused some crops to drought off - all leading to high possibilities of a straw shortage this season.”
Frontier agronomist, Mike Barry says: “The dry conditions may tempt more who usually chop straw to bale straw to boost arable incomes where yields may be affected, and hopefully not delay following crop planting in doing so.”
The lack of stocks from last season, along with poor straw growth this season is already reflected in the value of standing straw.
In the South West, where demand for straw for livestock bedding is very high, Simon Butcher, senior associate director at Strutt and Parker says prices are expected to be three to four times those of last year.
“Very few farmers have straw left from last year and some crops are only 75 per cent of their expected height which is exacerbating the problem.”
At a recent sale at Sedgemoor Auction Centre in Somerset, standing straw reached unprecedented prices according to auctioneer, Tom Mellor.
He says: “Everyone in the industry knew prices were going to jump following the prolonged 2017/18 winter season, but the prices achieved are staggering. With the winter barley reaching £198/acre and the winter wheat crops topping at a mighty £230/acre, the demand far outstripped supply. No less than seven lots of winter wheat achieved in excess of £200/acre – a price never seen before at the GTH auctions.”