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Wool production on a slow road to recovery
Apr '11
Australian wool production is slowly rising, arresting a 20-year trend of decline.

Good seasonal conditions across eastern Australia, higher wool prices and a lift in the retention of ewes and lambs has led the Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee to slightly lift its forecast for shorn wool production in 2010/11 to 340 million kilograms, up from its forecast 335 mkg made in December 2010. “The small increase is due to a slight increase in sheep shorn and average fleece weights,” Committee Chairman Russell Pattinson said.

In releasing their forecast today, the Committee noted that the increase in sheep shorn was, in part, due to some early shearing due to seasonal conditions and in response to the strength of the wool market.

The Committee has also noted a change in the diameter profile of the national clip with reduced volumes of fine Merino wool being produced and an increased production of strong Merino and cross-bred wool types, as was forecast in December.

The Committee has also released its first forecast for the 2011/12 season. The committee expects shorn wool production to rise by 1% in 2011/12 to 345 mkg, due to a slight increase in sheep numbers (68.3 million, an increase of 0.9% from the 2009/10 level of 67.7 million) and sheep shorn. The increase in sheep numbers is in line with ABARES and Meat and Livestock Australia forecasts.

Strong grower sentiment has been reported toward the retention of stock, especially Merinos. This has been directly reflected in the significant decrease in the sheep turnoff, reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics together with data from MLA's National Livestock Reporting Service data. While the increase in sheep numbers and wool production may only be small, it certainly suggests that the long run-down experienced since the early '90s may be ending.

However, Western Australia is the exception.

“While the outlook for south-eastern Australia wool production in the coming year will benefit from the excellent foundation laid by above average 2010/11 rainfall, the committee is concerned with the poor seasonal conditions in Western Australia and will closely monitor this in coming months,” Mr Pattinson added.

The April 2011 Australian Wool Production Forecast Report reflects increased data sharing between Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation as part of a new streamlined forecasting model. It also draws on advice and data from the AWTA Ltd, ABARES, AWEX and ABS, together with the significant input from producers, wool buyers and brokers, and State agency staff through AWPFC State Forecasting Committees.

Australian Wool Innovation Limited

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