WOOL production and sheep numbers shorn are both expected to increase this season on the strength of record wool prices.
The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) has revised its wool production forecast for the 2017-18 season upwards to 345 million kilograms greasy, a 1.4 per cent increase on its final estimate of 340mkg for last season.
But dry autumn and winter conditions leading up to the start and in the early part of this season in WA are expected to cause local wool production to go against the national trend and fall 6.4pc to 66.6mkg from last season’s estimate of an exceptional 71.1mkg.
National sheep numbers shorn this season are expected to rise 1.7pc, from 74.3m to 75.5m, but drier seasonal conditions, particularly in WA, are likely to see the average cut per head slip 0.3pc to 4.56kg to partly offset the extra production from increased numbers.
AWPFC committee chairman Russell Pattinson on Friday released its latest estimates and said the current season was marked by “very mixed” conditions through winter and spring across wool producing areas.
“Large areas of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and parts of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania experienced very dry conditions from July to September,” Mr Pattinson said.
“WA, in particular, is being affected after the exceptional season in 2016-17.
“Despite this, spring shearing in New South Wales and Qld has benefited from the good seasonal conditions seen for at least part of 2016-17, resulting in good fleece weights to date.
“(But) fleece weights could pull back as the season progresses.
“Other regions have seen excellent conditions, notably in the western half of Victoria and the south-east of SA.
“Fleece weights in these regions have been good and are likely to increase in these States as a result.
“The high and rising wool prices have encouraged producers to shear their sheep and deliver as quickly as possible into the market.”
Mr Pattinson said in some cases producers were reported to be shearing earlier than usual to take advantage of these high prices.
He said this had boosted the volume of wool tested and being offered at auction.
“The weight of wool tested by AWTA (Australian Wool Testing Authority) in the first five months of 2017-18 is up by 5pc, but the committee expects that wool volumes will slow in the second half of the season, partly because some clips that are usually delivered in the second half of the season have already been sold,” Mr Pattinson said.
The full AWPFC report will be available on the Australian Wool Innovation website at wool.com/forecasts from Friday, December 22.