Straw prices slip but still elevated
During June, big square baled barley and wheat straw prices in England and Wales declined by £25 to £74/tonne and £23 to £65/tonne respectively, according to data from the British Hay and Straw Merchants Association (BHSMA).
Prices now stand at the lowest levels since autumn 2017, although both are still above typical historic levels. Hay prices have also moved downwards, but again are high in historic terms.
At the start of the summer prices were at an inflated level, reflecting the combination of a poor 2017 harvest and increased demand from straw-burning power stations, according to the BHSMA. The harsh winter then boosted demand and further depleted straw supplies. During spring and the subsequent drought-like conditions, reports also indicated that more farmers were housing cattle due to the lack of grass growth, further pressuring supplies.
More recently however, industry reports suggest straw availability on the market has increased. This reflects reports of more arable farmers baling rather than ploughing back in, which has counteracted increased production of whole-crop silage from livestock farmers.
Rebecca Oborne, Analyst
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