Unseasonal weather patterns over the past nine months are likely to affect not only forage supplies, but also prices later in the season.

There have been question marks over straw supplies since the turn of the year with very little winter crop in the ground due to the horrendous wet weather particularly in the south. In addition, a similarly soggy February and March, delayed spring crop drilling which was then compromised by an extended period of dry weather.

According to AHDB’s Forage for Knowledge, the situation seems particularly bleak south of the Border, where crops, in some areas, are an almost write off, due to soil moisture levels at rock bottom.

However, despite the somewhat obvious concerns over future supplies, forage hauliers, Stanley Johnston and his son, Kenny, in Perth, urged some caution to ensure a fair price for everyone in the chain.

“A lot of people are buying straw now, straight off the field, rather than waiting until later in the year,” said Kenny, who is busier than ever for this time of year.

“Prices, so far, are pretty much on a par with last year, with old season round straw bales selling at £8 per bale, but who knows what will happen with new season crop as the weather can have a huge impact over the next few weeks,” he said.

“It’s a similar story for hay, as the forecast has not been the best, and the people who usually sell it are thinking about keeping some, as they believe there could be a shortage,” said Kenny, who is paying £15 per round bale of hay ex-farm.

International haulier, Philip Judge, based in Gloucestershire, also said there is no reason for panic buying straw and causing an inflation in price.

“Stock piling and paying big money for straw just causes 101 other problems. We want prices to remain stable,” he said.

“Every merchant and dealer in the country is aware of just how tight the margins are in the livestock and dairy industries and no-one can afford the big prices paid. We want a fair price for everyone. We have all got to work together on this one to ensure a sustainable industry,” said Philip.

“I think a lot of folk are underestimating the crop available. Prices could start expensive if people panic buy, but they will come down, if people stop unnecessary purchasing and stock piling.

“Although crops are very variable across the country, the last few weeks of rain have saved the day and helped flourish yields that bit more, however, straw will still be 20-30% back in yield this harvest.

“We are hoping sellers will drop more acres to make up for the shortage,” added Philip, who believed it will be a below average harvest, subject to the weather coming good, just with the condition not being there, but no need to push the prices sky high.

Earlier indicator prices, for straw on the bout, remain stable with farmers paying anywhere between £25-£52 per acre for wheat, barley and oats, which works out at around £5-8 per round bale before baling.

“Prices could have been a lot higher, but there just isn’t the money in the industry, so there is no point pricing a product the market cannot afford,” said Philip.

He added that crop yields have been very variable across the country, with some areas achieving bumper crops, while others have seen disappointing results.

“There is a strong demand for hay, and despite a good rain fall at the beginning of June, yields are again not where they should be, being 30% down on the year,” added Philip, who is pricing soft meadow hay delivered at around £130 per tonne.

“Farmers need to remain calm, and not get over excited, there is definitely crop around especially on the east coast of Scotland, where they had an exceptional drilling so there is the potential for a lot of straw – be prepared but don’t get excited!” he concluded.