Australian shorn wool production stabilises
The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) has updated its forecast of shorn wool production for the 2020/21 season. This second forecast is for production of 280 million kilograms (mkg) greasy, a 1.1% decline on the 2019/20 estimated production of 283 mkg greasy, but an upward revision from the 276 mkg forecast in April.
Committee Chairman, Russell Pattinson said that “Welcome rainfall through much of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and southern Queensland in recent months stimulated pasture growth and replenished on-farm water supplies. This is tempered by persistent dry conditions in much of Western Australia, the pastoral region of South Australia and central Queensland”.
“Despite encouraging rainfall in some areas, the effect of the prolonged drought on wool production in 2019 and early in 2020 will, in part, carry forward into the 2020/21 season”.
Sheep and lamb turn off data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to the end of June 2020 show a 10% decrease in total turnoff compared with the previous season as producers in some regions of the country seek to rebuild their flocks. This is supported by results from the June 2020 AWI/MLA Wool and Sheepmeat survey which found that more than 40% of producers intend to increase breeding ewe numbers, compared with 28% of producers in 2019/20.
The Committee noted the substantial transfer of ewes and lambs from Western Australia to southern and eastern states during the first 6 months of 2020.
The number of sheep shorn (estimated to be down by 5.2%) remains a key factor limiting recovery in shorn wool production in the short term, particularly in Western Australia and NSW, despite a gradual increase in annual average cut per head (up 2.9%) as a result of improved seasonal conditions in many wool growing regions.
The Committee estimates shorn wool production for the 2019/20 season at 283 mkg greasy, a 5.5% decline on 300 mkg greasy for the 2018/19 season. AWTA test data showed that the average yield ended the 2019/20 season at 62.2%, down 0.9% on 2018/19, mean fibre diameter was unchanged at 20.5 microns while staple length increased by 2 mm to 85.6 mm as producers moved away from shorter shearing intervals (e.g. every 6-months) back to shearing every 8- or 12-months.