Plenty of heat likely in winter hay and straw market
Date of Article
Jul 30 2013

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28 July 2013, There’s likely to be plenty of heat in the hay and straw market during the coming autumn and winter.

That’s the view of auctioneer John Read, who has been keeping a weather eye on likely demand as he prepares the 2013-14 Newbury hay and straw sale calendar for Carter Jonas.

“A knock-on effect of the dreadful weather over the previous 12 months is the likelihood of a later harvest this year because crops took so long to establish, if they were planted at all,” he explains. “As well as there being less straw, the late harvest will mean many farmers pressing on with getting their winter cereals into the ground so most will not want to wait for baling to be completed. It’s likely to mean strong prices this winter.”

Hay quality is good this year because the dry and sunny weather has come just in time to allow haymaking before the grass went over, although the actual quantity is down on some farms. 

“The continuing dry spell grass is slowing grass growth as everyone can see with their parched lawns so there will be less available for grazing and subsequent cuts of hay,” says Mr Read. “This will lead to new hay stocks being fed to livestock sooner.

“Ironically, the winter trade last season was slow but the late spring meant stocks were cleared down in April and in some cases farmers were searching for fodder to buy as late as May, leaving less hay to carry over for this coming season so again prices should be strong.”

Mr Read advises farmers to store hay or straw well - undercover in a barn is essential, but a good bed of older hay or straw will protect the bottom bales while sheeting the sides where the barn is open sided will preserve quality and help damp or weathered bales being written off.