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Pricing Straw in the Field

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
July 22, 2015         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Pricing Straw in the Field
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (07/24/2015) — Rye brings on the first small grain harvest and consideration of opportunities for livestock producers to buy straw from a neighbors field.

In discussions about buying or selling straw out of the field, I usually start by considering the market value of baled straw, subtracting the costs of baling, hauling and storing straw, and maybe some savings that make it worthwhile for the buyer to do the work - rather than working on the phone to buy straw and have it delivered to the farm.

Some buyers like buying straw from a neighbor. They can see first-hand whether there are weed issues in the field. They can nail down the straw they need in the growing season and close to home with someone they know…rather than spending time dealing on straw through the winter and spring months.

Some land owners are concerned about selling crop residue off the land and losing it as an organic matter resource. Grain farmers might trade straw for manure hauled back on the land. People sometimes ask about the nutrient value of crop residue and manure. One key concept here is that the only nutrients that have value are the ones you need more of on your land. For example if you land is already well supplied with phosphorus, the phosphorus in the straw or manure has no value on that land. Based on a soil test, you would not be buying phosphorus. In some nutrient management plans, it might be considered a liability.

In looking at straw value, there seems to be a little more straw sold each year by the ton. From last September through June, 64 loads of straw sold by the ton at the Mid-American Auction held in Sauk Centre. Large Round Bales and Large Square Bales averaged $84 per ton, ranging from a low of $50 per ton to a high of $140. Besides the one load that sold for $140 dollars per ton in December, the next highest price was $115 per ton. Prices in May and June ranged from $60 to $80 per ton.

From last September through July, there were 252 loads of Medium Square Bales of Straw average $31 per bale. The average price of all sales ranged from $23 to $42 per bale with the price of all loads ranging from a low of $10 per bales to a high of $50 per bale.

There were 69 loads of Large Round Straw. All of them averaged $40 per bale ranging from $10 to %52.50. For 11 sales that had more than one load of large round straw the sales averages ranged from $25.25 to $47.50. The average of the average of these 11 sales was $38, not much different than the average of all the loads.

Remember, this pricing information tells about prices people decided to pay or take during the last year - not necessarily what you should pay or take now. Now YOU consider YOUR budgets and needs and YOU make decisions about what YOU pay or take for straw, hay and other products next.

Here are a couple of items from the March Iowa State Farm Custom Rate Survey that might be useful this time of the year. The numbers are listed as the low response, average response, and the high response. The full list can be found on website by searching for Iowa State 2015 Custom Rate or by call the County Extension Office for a copy.

Low        Ave.         High
Combine Small Grain
$20.00    $30.00     $35.00
$12.00    $13.10     $15.00
Baling Small Squares
$0.50    $0.72       $1.10
Baling Large Square Bales
$8.00    $10.75        $12.00
Baling Large Round Bales
$8.00      $11.25       $14.00

There are variations in size for what are called Large Square and Large Round Bales and that certainly affect the price for baling – along with other factors: size of fields, field conditions, distance travelled, volume of crop and other things. Variation in purchase price can also reflect variations in bale dimensions, quality and other factors. These numbers might be a place to start a discussion.

Please make SAFETY a PRIORITY as you continue with summer work and activities. Wet field and road conditions and difficult crop conditions add extra hazards. Talk with family and workers about the hazards of handling and hauling large bale packages. This would include tipping, rolling, stopping distance allowances, limited visibility, hydraulic failures, adequate tie-downs, and others.  



Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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