By David Swinger
The dried stems from harvested small grains produce straw. The majority of small grain grown in the US is wheat. A good stand of wheat can produce an incredible amount of straw after harvest. Straw is often regarded as a wasted by product, but some farmers are actively finding and creating markets for their straw.
A number of producers manage their fields of grain in order to be “weed free”. The fields are inspected by an outside entity for noxious weeds while the wheat is actively growing and can be certified as weed free if it passes inspection. The straw is then baled with a special colored twine to designate it as having been inspected and certified. Certified straw is then used on soil reclamation projects after pipelines, road projects, or energy projects have been completed to help with soil stabilization and cover. The straw producer incurs an added cost of time, material and the certification process in order to have their straw certified weed free.