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Preprocessing of straw bales?

 
Tom Connolly
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Has anyone ever done any pre-processing of straw bales before they are used in construction? By that, I mean, laying them out in the summer (rainless) sun for a few weeks to further dry them out...or perhaps something (unknown to me) else?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Tom,

Apologies if I repeat myself...I thought we covered this on another post?

The risk of them getting "rewetted" is to high by leaving them out, though some have tried this and often failed. Tried and true traditional methods seem to be the best. Once the harvest is over, the straw (not hay) is baled and stored in 'drying barns' to further cure in most cases. Some builders have considered, and from what I understand a few have tried to use commercial lumber kilns to further dry the bails but the added cost in handling and shipping does not warrant such extreme expenditures.

So, for the most part, you are going to buy your bails direct (most cost effective) from a farmer or distributor and or through the straw bale contractor hired for the project.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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properly stacked in a barn dry better, just like firewood. stacked off the ground (on pallets) to get airflow under and the stack effect will pull the air up and through. But I have never seen a straw bale that was put up right need to dry more. They usually take up moisture in storage. They definitely take up more moisture if you set them on the ground.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Agreed Scott...if harvested properly (taken up as you said) they can go from field to architecture and that is usually the best, unless the farmer has (some still do) the great big drying "hay mows."

We restore these (and move these) barns for a living. We moved one last year from Ohio to Texas...55 feet wide and over 120 feet long...The timbers in this barn...like the rafter plates...10" x 14" and over 80 feet long of hand hewn solid Oak.

So, with this type of barn a farmer can harvest when 'bone dry' and keep them that way till ready to use in a structure...
 
Tom Gauthier
Posts: 48
Location: U.P., Michigan
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I agree with Jay C. and R. Scott and I would just like to add a comment. By definition straw should be thoroughly dry, since it is the left-over from threshing dry grain (wheat, rice, etc.). So unless the bales were left out in the weather, they should not need further drying. Hay on the other hand is fresh-cut grass that is allowed to air dry, then is baled, so it is very possible to have improperly dried hay in a bale, which can cause all kinds of problems.
I think too often there is confusion between straw and hay.
-Tom
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Tom G.'s distinction is extremely important...!!

I would say between 80% and 90% of the folks I meet asking about "straw bale" and related just don't get the difference, and I have met a number of folks that actually have built with hay and can't figure out why they have issues, and/or had one built and still believe hay and straw are the same thing or almost interchangeable...THEY AREN'T!

Very good Tom G. to bring that point up...
 
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