How to Buy a Bale
The article “Bale Wisdom/Bale Buying 101” explains the things you need to know about buying bales for your building.
How to Find a Bale
Listings of bale sources are no longer included in the TLS annual resource guide. For the most current listings of bale sources, visit www.strawlocator.com, www.hayexchange.com and www.agriseek.com/sale/e/Ag-Products/Plant/Cereal/Straw-Bale.
These sites list suppliers and sources. You can also list information about the bales you need on the www.strawlocator.com site and identify bale haulers and shop for supplies.
“Like a lot of things, older balers are often better balers. Newer rotary combines, for example, do such an effective job of getting the grain off the stalk that there’s hardly any stalk left to bale. Yes, the bales from a rotary combine seem good and tight… but look closer. Try grabbing at a corner of a bale. Can you pull straw off the bale easily? What length is the straw? Is it all 3-4 inches (7-10 cm)? Try to avoid buying these bales. Longer straw makes a far superior structural bale, and it’s easier to work with, too. If you do end up with bales from a rotary combine, and you have to work with them, avoid any unnecessary handling and notching. Their instability will be readily apparent as soon as you start making custom bales—it could even be a structural issue if you are building a load-bearing structure.
This may only apply to two-string bales—so far we have not seen a three-string bale with this problem. Whatever the size, do check out the bales you plan to buy, before you write the check. All bales are not created equal.”
Other good sources to track down people who can do custom baling are the local co-op, feed store, parts store, or any ag-related business. Also contact your local sustainable agriculture society, food cooperatives, and cooperative extension agents.
There are board, commissions and associations through which you may be able to find custom balers for all types of bale-able materials – wheat, rice, hemp and others. This is a great way to create awareness on the part of growers and balers, and a way you, too, can help spread the word about bale building. Here’s a few we’ve been in touch with to promote the use of straw bales for construction:
California Rice Commission
701 University Ave., Ste 205, Sacramento CA 95825
California Wheat Commission
PO Box 2267, Woodland CA 95776-2267; 520.661.1292, fax 530.661.1332.
Idaho Grain Producers Association
821 W State St., Boise ID 83702-5832; 202.345.0706.
Idaho Wheat Commission
1109 Main St., Ste 310, Boise ID 837-2-5632; 208.334.2353.
Illinois Wheat Growers Association
RR4 Box 145, Greenville IL 62246.
Kansas Association of Wheat Growers
315 Houston St., Suite C, Manhattan KS 66502.
Kansas Wheat Commission
2630 Claflin Rd, Manhattan, KS 66502-2743,; 866.75WHEAT.
Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers
2600 Wheat Dr., Red Lake Falls MN 56750; 218.253.4311.
Montana Grain Growers Association
PO Box 1165, Great Falls MT 59402; 406.761.4596.
Montana Wheat & Barley Committee
PO Box 3024, Great Falls MT 59403-3024; 406.671.7732.
National Association of Wheat Growers
415 Secont St., NE, Ste 200, Washington DC 2002-4993; 202.547.7800.
North Dakota Wheat Commission
4023, State St., Bismarck ND 58502-9690; 701.328.5111.
Oklahoma Wheat Commission
800 NE 63rd, Oklahoma City OK 73105; 405.521.2796.
Oregon Wheat Growers League
115 SE 8th St., Pendleton OR 97801; 541.276.73390.
US Wheat Associates
1620 I St. NW, Ste 801, Washington DC 2006-4005.
US Wheat Associates
1200 NW Naito Pkwy, Ste 600, Portland OR 97209; 503.223.8123.
Washington Association of Wheat Growers
109 East First, Ritzville WA 99169; 800.598.6890.
Canadian Wheat Board
423 Main St., PO Box 816, Station Main, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3C 2P5; 204.983.3101, fax 204.983.4678.
There is also an interactive listing on the web page for the California rice straw market. Go to ricestrawmarket.org.