European demand drives prices at first Newbury hay and straw sale
Date of Article
Dec 13 2011

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A European crisis of a different kind proved to be a bonus at the first Carter Jonas hay and straw sale of the season.

Auctioneer John Read reports the demand for big bale wheat straw was phenomenal and, unusually, outshone the performance of barley straw at the sale, held at Newbury Rugby Club on December 1.

He believes the straw demand is being driven by the strong exports to Holland and France, where farmers are desperate to make up the shortfall after their own poor crops this year. Farmers in the south have already seen a lot of activity with buyers from the West Country and Wales picking up loads, travelling east to sell them at the dockside and then returning to pick up a second load to take home.

This auction, the firm’s 61st annual December Newbury Hay and Straw Sale, saw some 70 lots, totalling nearly 1,000 tonnes, on offer from farms throughout southern England.

Mark Noble, of Puckshipton Farms at Marden, between Devizes and Marden, topped the sale for wheat straw with his BB930 bales achieving £17 per bale, equating to £85 per tonne. This was closely followed by Farnborough Estates, Wantage, who made £15.94 per bale. Big bale wheat straw ranged from £55 to £85 per tonne to average £70 per tonne overall. The wide range of prices reflected the varying quality on offer.     

Trade for barley straw was mixed, with some lots unsold.  New vendor Watership Down Partnership topped the trade with £19.40 per bale for their Mini-Hesston bales of Spring Barley Straw, equating to £78 per tonne.

Trade for hay depended on the bale size. Conventional bales sold well but big bales proved harder to place. Richard Minors, of the Minors Farming Partnership based near Bishops Waltham, made £4 per bale for good quality ryegrass hay closely followed by Robert Stevens, of Cole Henley, Whitchurch, achieving £3.80 per bale for his ryegrass ley hay.     

“Demand for big bale wheat straw was phenomenal and it is unusual for this commodity to outshine barley straw. The strong exports of wheat straw to Holland and France have created a firm base for the market. Given the mild autumn, it is perhaps not surprising that there was less demand for some of the barley straw and big bale hay,” commented Mr Read.         

The next sale Carter Jonas hay and straw sale will be on 19 January at Newbury Rugby Club and entries are now being sought.