Wheat straw's prevailing baling question
Another name for wheat straw is chaff, the stuff that’s left over after the grain has been threshed out of the head.
As the straw comes out of the rear of the combine, it can be scattered over the ground with an attached spreader or it can be allowed to form a windrow for baling.
Some farmers bale the straw and mix it with silage or alfalfa for feed or selling it as a cash crop.
The bales are produced as small squares, big rounds, or big squares.
According to ag industry nutritionists, wheat straw has very little value but can be mixed with higher quality feed like alfalfa to extend rations and act as a filler. The two can be ground together or fed on alternating days.
Stuart Penner baled up all of Alan Hett’s straw into big squares. Penner bought the straw and will sell it to mushroom growers in Oklahoma, or as bedding to dairy farmers in Wisconsin. Some may be sold as feed, as well, Hett said.
Chuck DeForest of Florence hasn’t baled wheat straw for a while. He said it doesn’t have enough value to be profitable. He practices no-till farming, so he prefers to let the combine spread it onto fields and then plant into it. He said having a good spreader on the combine helps.
Agronomist Romulo Lollato of Kansas State University promotes leaving straw in the field.
“There might be some money in baling and selling it, but I’m a bigger fan of leaving it in the field,” he said. “There are long-term benefits.”
He said as straw deteriorates, it puts carbon into the soil, promoting organic matter and soil health.
Straw also helps reduce erosion, runoff, and wind erosion. It creates a seedbed that will maintain moisture after another crop is planted into it.
Last modified Aug. 7, 2019