Is a straw shortage on the cards?

A significant decrease in straw availability looks likely this harvest. While the cereal crop area is down, the straw yield also looks like it will decrease – particularly in spring crops. The good news is that the majority of winter crops look to be performing well on the straw front.

However, spring barley crops are being reported to be reduced in height across the country due to rapid growth following late sowing. Crops are now heading out despite being less than 1ft tall in many cases.

In the last number of years, straw yields have been good in general. Some of the newer varieties – like Planet – have provided long stems on crops and have been at risk of lodging.

Drop in area sown

The drop in area sown will have a large influence on straw availability. The significant decrease in cereal acreage is bound to have a knock-on impact on stocks.

Preliminary results from the Department of Agriculture estimated a 5% drop in the main tillage crops sown in 2018 compared to 2017.

The area sown to winter wheat dropped by 11%, winter barley dropped by 13% and winter oats dropped by a massive 30%. Spring wheat and oats dropped by 47% and 22% respectively, while the area sown to spring barley increased by 7%.

No carryover stock

There is very little carryover stock available in the country at present. The fodder crisis saw large amounts of straw imported into the country due to a native shortage in the winter and spring just gone.