Harvest 2018: area of straw baled soars in East of England, but third report crop yields down

Wheat straw bales from Harvest 2018 awaiting collection in a Mid Suffolk field Picture: SARAH CHAMBE

Wheat straw bales from Harvest 2018 awaiting collection in a Mid Suffolk field Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

The amount of cereal crops baled this year has soared, with particularly marked rises in the East of England and in Scotland, a survey has found.

Land agents Savills carried out a snap market survey of 2018 baling and discovered a 15% increase. But crop yields have been variable, Savills said, with 34% of surveyed land in the east and 82% of land in the north reporting below average yields.

Head of research Emily Norton said: “Our survey finds that virtually no barley straw has been left unbaled, and whereas normally about half of all wheat straw is baled, this year a whopping 80% has been baled.”

The most marked change has however been in rape straw – in a normal year virtually none is baled, but this year nearly 20% of the area grown will be baled. Overall, this still means that 30% of respondents said that they would be baling no straw at all, despite the record prices achieved for straw crops this year.

“The vast majority of our clients are baling more straw in the east this year. There are some, however, who aren’t baling, especially where farm soil management policies require the straw to be incorporated,” said Savills’ Henry Barringer.

Further south and west, more respondents reported average and even above average crop yields.

“We’re expecting more survey results this week as harvest wraps up across most of the country ahead of the change in weather, but at this stage, our snap survey confirms increased market availability of straw products across the UK,” said Ms Norton.

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“This however will offer scant comfort to livestock farmers already facing severe fodder shortages as a result of the drought.”