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“Seedless Straw” Is A Profitable Farm Crop
“Gardeners and vegetable growers want straw to mulch their crops, but they don’t want grain and weed seeds mixed in, so I’ve been producing ‘seedless straw’ for quite a few years,” says New Hampshire farmer Bob Frizzell. “I plant the crop as winter rye in the fall and cut it about June 1 the following year before the seed heads have developed. It dries in the field just like grain, and then I bale it.”
Frizzell puts up about 10,000 small square bales of straw a year from 100 acres of rye. “I can’t let it grow too tall because a rain and wind storm might lay it flat and then it’s ruined,” he says. “It would produce more bales later in June, but I’ve learned there’s no sense chancing it.”
He cuts the rye and lets it cure in the field for a week to 10 days, then windrows it before baling. Frizzell says, “I used to have a pull-type bar rake, but that left bunches which didn’t bale very well, so I bought a wheel rake and mounted it on the front of my tractor. Several years ago, I’d read about that setup in a FARM SHOW story, and it works great for me too.”
Frizzell has a specific process to harvest, stack, and store the bales. “We pull a dump wagon behind the baler that holds about 75 bales. When it’s full, we dump it, and then my crew stacks 15 bales on wooden pallets. When the bales are tied down, I load the pallets on a wagon with my forklift, haul them to my storage barns and stack them three or four high inside. The space between the pallets allows just enough air movement so the bales can cure a little more and not mold. The same process works great for hay. Handling bales on pallets is a lot easier than moving them all by hand.”
Over the years, Frizzell has built up a long list of customers who travel nearly 80 miles to pick up his high-quality bales. First crop hay sells for $7 a bale, second crop $10 a bale, and straw starts at $11 a bale with a discount for larger quantities.
Frizzell says raising the rye is just like growing a cover crop, although his seeding rate is almost 200 lbs. an acre, which produces more plants and more straw per acre. The heavy seeding rate produces more plants that smother weed growth, too. He built a 14-foot-wide roller to smooth his fields after seeding so cutting and baling on smooth fields is easier on equipment.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bob Frizzell, Peachblow Farm, 229 Strawberry Row, Charlestown, N.H. 03603-4656 (peachblowfarm@comcast.net).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2