Prices for 8x4x3 bales of barley straw have surged above the £100 barrier as the scarcity of straw intensifies across Ireland and Britain.

Supplies of local straw were more or less exhausted back in early autumn, following a challenging harvest and lower yields.

To fill the shortage in the market, unprecedented quantities of English straw have been imported into NI over recent weeks.

But with reserves of English straw rapidly dwindling, and no sign of buying demand easing with lambing and spring calving on the horizon, imported straw has soared to £220/t this week with further price increases expected.

For 8x4x3 bales weighing 500kg to 520kg, it is a cost between £110 and £115 per bale.

That compares to late August when barley straw was priced at approximately £140/t, or £55 for 8x4x3 bales, before rising to around £180/t by early November.

With English barley straw becoming harder to source, buyers are turning to wheat straw causing prices to rise at pace. Price quotes this week have jumped to £190/t, up £10 to £15/t from late December.


There is growing consensus within the straw trade that availability will be an issue throughout 2024, and ultimately, that may well keep prices artificially high.

The main factor driving tight supply is the lower acreage of winter cereals planted in autumn 2023 due to poor weather.

While most of the unplanted ground will be put into spring cereals, these crops tend to have lower straw yields.

Added to that is the knock-on effect of flooding across key grain growing regions in England with large areas of winter crops needing replanting this spring.

There is also the straw incorporation measure in the Republic of Ireland which continues to put pressure on straw availability, with 70,000ha of straw chopped under the scheme last year.

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