Strong wheat-straw prices may help Ohio growers capture income lost from below-normal grain yields this year, says an Ohio State University Extension educator.

Ed Lentz says a wet fall and early spring reduced wheat acreage and per-acre straw yield. The unusual weather also impacted forage yields, creating more demand from livestock producers who supplement rations with straw when hay supplies are tight.

“There are reports of people contacting wheat growers and offering to buy straw directly off their land and offering to bale the straw themselves,” says Lentz.

But wheat growers have to compare the economics of selling straw vs. keeping it on their land to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. A good wheat crop yields 1-1.2 tons of straw per acre on a dry matter basis, and a ton of straw has about 11 lbs of nitrogen, 3 lbs of phosphorus and 20 lbs of potassium.

“So growers have to decide what their wheat straw is worth and if it is better to sell it at market prices or keep it for their soil,” he says. “The market may drive their decision because of the shortage, which means that growers could be able to make more for their wheat straw than they typically would have in a normal season.”