Wheat straw is in high demand for a variety of reasons, including fewer acres of wheat. That smaller supply, combined with increased demand is causing much stronger prices for wheat straw. But there’s a cost to removing straw from the field and Bruce Clevenger, Ohio State University Extension educator in Defiance County says while a lab analysis would provide the most accurate numbers, there are some ballpark numbers that can be used to calculate the value of nutrients in wheat straw.
Even with fewer wheat acres being harvested this year, the demand for wheat straw is steady to growing.
“The high demand for straw comes from a variety of sources,” says Defiance County Extension educator Bruce Clevenger. “Everything from the industrial uses of straw, all the way back to the traditional livestock use for bedding, but also large dairy farms and dairy farms in general can use straw as a feed source for dry cows, cows that may not need a high nutrient value but they need some roughage in their diet and straw can serve that purpose.”
Clevenger also tells Brownfield that with the supply low and demand high, those with straw are finding elevated prices.
“Some of the local markets I’ve looked at here mid-June, we see $145 to $165 per ton for small square bales, on a per bale price there were some auctions that did not report the weight of the bale, but the per bale price ranged from $1.20 all the way up to $3.60 per bale for small square straw bales,” Clevenger said.
With wheat harvest underway across the state, comes the question, what’s the value of the nutrients in wheat straw?
Bruce Clevenger, OSU Extension educator in Defiance County says while a lab analysis would provide the most accurate numbers, Dr. Robert Mullin put together some ballpark numbers that can be used.
“Those numbers work out to about 11 pounds of nitrogen, per ton of straw, there’s about three pounds of P205, or phosphorus and then there’s 20 pounds of K20, or potassium,” said Clevenger. “The big dollar value that we might look at from a straw nutrient standpoint would be the potassium and that 20 pounds per ton is the number to think about.”
Clevenger adds that straw also has value as organic matter, but that’s a little more difficult to place a value on.
“Wheat harvest will produce between a ton and 1.2 tons of straw per acre and that’s on a dry matter basis,” Clevenger said. “That’s a fair amount of organic matter that we would be removing from the field and some of the reluctance of some farmers to sell their straw is not only removing the phosphorus and the potassium, but the organic matter that get reincorporated back into the soil.”
Wheat straw is also in high demand for a variety of reasons, including fewer acres of wheat. Clevenger, the OSU Extension educator says the smaller supply, combined with increased demand is causing much stronger prices for wheat straw.