The age-old question: Straw vs Hay, what’s the difference? This time of the year we get flooded with questions about using straw versus hay for a given task. Straw is plant stubble from a harvested crop. It’s called straw because it’s hollow. Straw is also a regional product. In North Texas, 99% of the straw is from wheat. The other 1% is typically made from oats. Straw is mainly used for decoration, bedding, erosion control, mulch, and archery backstops. It can also be used as building material and in composting operations.
Hay is grown as food for livestock. It can be used like straw but is expensive for the task. Most of the hay grown in our area is one of several types of hybrid Bermuda.
Straw is cheaper than hay. Neither should be considered organic or all-natural. The “why” to the last statement comes up often. The majority of wheat and hay crops are grown with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and for wheat, fungicides. Organic or all-natural straw and hay are available but scarce and expensive. Both will have seeds in the bales. Straw will grow mainly wheat but it will not be enough to make a sandwich. Anything growing from a bale of hay should be considered a noxious weed. The bottom line is that you would use straw for everything but feeding livestock. The fun part of having bales of straw that are left outside in the weather is, they grow. Remember the Chia Pet?
Pick up hay bales, straw bales, and other supplies at Wells Brothers. And come springtime, if you have any of those straw bales left, try Straw bale gardening. We’ve got easy, step by step instructions to plant your most unconventional garden yet!