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Wheat Straw: To Harvest or Not to Harvest?

Posted by Blythe Howell | September 8, 2017

Straw residue is a valuable byproduct of wheat production. Left in the fields, wheat straw residue can protect soils from wind and water erosion, add organic matter to soils, and return nutrients such as N, P, K, S, and Cl to soils. When harvested, the residue can be sold as feedstock for mushroom, fiberboard, and paper production, or as feed and bedding for livestock. Fluctuation in wheat prices and increased demand for wheat straw can provide financial incentives for harvest. The tradeoffs between soil conservation and straw sale has left questions for farmers: How much is my straw worth? Is it more economical to bale or not to bale?
The recent publication, Chapter 4: Crop Residue Management in the Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest and our Residue Production Calculator can help you in decision-making.

Haiying Tao

Haiying Tao’s contact information is no longer valid. For questions or comments, contact Carol McFarland via email at

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Washington State University