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Australian wool production to fall 5.7% in 2018-19

Aug '18
Courtesy: Trinity Kubassek from Pexels
Courtesy: Trinity Kubassek from Pexels
Shorn wool production in Australia is likely to fall by 5.7 per cent year-on-year in 2018-19 to 322mkg greasy, the Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee has said in its updated forecast. The continuing dry conditions across most of the country is expected to lead to a lower number of sheep to be shorn and a reduction in average wool cut per head.

The committee estimates that Australian shorn wool production in 2017-18 was 341 mkg greasy, 0.3 per cent higher than the estimated level for 2016-17 and higher than the committee’s forecast in April. It reflects an increase in the number of sheep shorn (+3.3 per cent) last season compared to 2016-17, which is mostly offset by an estimated 2.9 per cent decline in average fleece weights.

“Adverse seasonal conditions in many sheep producing areas across Australia have resulted in a high turn-off of sheep and lambs. It will also mean lower average fleece weights in several states,” committee chairman Russell Pattinson said. The impact of the season can be seen through a 10 per cent increase in sheep and lamb turn-off last season compared to 2016-17 (sheep 28 per cent increase year-on-year and lamb 5 per cent increase), an Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) press release said.

“The Committee’s first forecast for the 2018-19 season made in April at 333 mkg assumed that normal seasonal conditions would prevail. That has obviously not been the case with conditions worsening in many wool producing regions across Australia,” Pattinson said. As a result, wool production is expected to fall in all states except Tasmania with the largest reductions expected in NSW (down 8.9 per cent) and South Australia (down 6.0 per cent). How the season progresses over the next couple of months will be very important for overall production levels this season.

The dry seasonal conditions over much of the second half of the season resulted in lower than expected fleece weights in 2017-18. Wool production reductions were greatest in WA (down 8.5 per cent) and Queensland (down 3.0 per cent), while Victoria showed the largest increase (+ 8.9 per cent) with increases also in SA (+2.7 per cent) and Tasmania (+1.5 per cent).

The estimated 0.3 per cent increase in production in 2017-18 is consistent with AWTA test weight data for the season (+0.6 per cent) and AWEX first-hand offerings (+2.2 per cent). (RKS)

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