Written by Hillsboro Free Press Tuesday, 19 June 2012 09:40
Stuart Penner was baling wheat straw last week in his field east of Hillsboro along U.S. Highway 56. If it seems like the amount of straw being baled is higher than normal this year, you may be right, according to Rickey Roberts, Marion County‘s agricultural extension agent. “I think there was quite a bit baled last year, too,” Roberts said. “But there’s a lot baled this year.” He said farmers are hearing of a potential shortage in hay feed again around the Midwest. “If this summer turns out anything like last summer, people will be willing to feed about anything,” he said. Normally, wheat straw is baled primarily for bedding cattle and other livestock as the straw itself has minimal food value. A process has been developed, however, to “ammoniate” the straw by adding anhydrous ammonia. “By ammoniating, you increase the protein value as well as feed value,” Roberts said. Some of the larger cattle feeders also see value in using straw when feeding lots of wet distillers grain. “They need something dry to mix with the wet distillers, and that’s where straw can come in handy.” One other reason some farmers may be baling more wheat straw is to remove the heavy loose straw in preparation for double-cropping with row crop.