Scarce fodder and bedding due to the harsh spring last year and the cold snap this spring, has resulted in an expensive trade for all crop types, with straw prices as much as £40 per tonne up on the year.

Last year, most producers were struggling to get much out of their crops resulting in poor stocks from low yields, therefore supplies were always going to be wanted and with such a high demand, matched to a long spring this year, prices have rocketed.

“Straw has been very strong all season which is due to the shortage of barley and wheat straw, down to the weather last spring – the same quantity just wasn’t coming off the fields as expected,” said Andrew Templeton, auctioneer at Harrison and Hetherington, Carlisle.

Backing this statement up was the recent weekly crop sale held on Monday, at Carlisle, where mini-hestons of wheat sold for £115 per tonne and round bales at £27 each. Round bales of barley came in at £36 per bale with round bales of oats reaching £24.

“The all-round demand is still there, which was holding up the straw price. However, with spring just around the corner again, the price should begin to ease off again, just with the weather changing. Hopefully, farmers will soon be able to turn their cattle out, rather than buy straw in,” he added. “Straw prices will be £30-40 per tonne up on the year, sitting around the £130-£140 per tonne this week, it’s an expensive time.

“What we have really noticed is people have been selling small loads by the bale, which have been more or less 80% up on last year. We just have to take this year as it comes and hope the value remains strong for the industry,” added Andrew.

Further north, Fraser Chapman, an auctioneer at Aberdeen and Northern Marts, Thainstone, commented: “Fodder has been exceeding seller’s expectations. Trade for straw all spring has been fuelled by the strong demand from the south.

“Due to having cold snaps in the weather, this week’s sale saw a clearance of all classes,” he said, with heston bales of straw selling for £41 each.

Inside spring barley straw was making £18 per bale for round 4 x 4s, with outside spring barley straw realising £12 per bale for round 4 x 4s.

This time last year, no fodder was been sold through Thainstone Auction Market due to Covid-19 restrictions, but the online bidding system has been proven to be successful over the last year, with thousands of bales being sold each week online.

Forage hauliers, Stanley Johnstone and his son, Kenny, in Perth, urged some caution to ensure a fair price for everyone in the chain as farmers can’t afford big expenses on fodder, they pointed out.

“Straw is a big trade. There is not such a market for hay nowadays, with more people feeding haylage or silage. The crop of straw simply just wasn’t there last year, cereal crops were very poor. We are now getting to the end of the season and there isn’t a lot of straw available,” said Kenny.

“The supply is starting to dwindle away, but straw is getting scarce. A lot of the English boys are taking the straw down the road because their crop wasn’t good either. We are having to go a fair distance to get straw, but there is plenty up in the North-east of Scotland, so it is just the matter of getting it across the country.

“The price will hold up for this year due to the late spring, but we will just have to see how the next crop season goes for how the price will fluctuate for the future. But one thing’s for sure, everyone is hoping for an early spring,” concluded Kenny.