THE drought-affected Eastern States are predicted to lead a 10.8 per cent decline in national shorn wool production to 305 million kilograms greasy for the current season.
The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee’s updated forecast last Friday predicted shorn wool production in New South Wales this season would be down by 20.4pc on the 2017-18 season and in Queensland it will drop by 14pc.
By comparison, the committee predicted WA’s shorn wool production this season will be 62.7mkg, down only 3.6pc on last season.
But its revised final estimate for last season put WA’s production at 65.1mkg a drop of 8.5pc due to a dry autumn and winter when compared to a bumper 2016-17 wool season.
The committee’s final estimate for WA was in stark contrast to a forecast 8.9pc increase in Victoria and an almost static national production figure for 2017-18 of 341mkg.
The expected national production decline in the current season will be due to both fewer sheep shorn and a lighter cut per head as a result of continued difficult conditions in some areas, the committee said.
High sheep slaughter to the end of September is expected to reduce the number of sheep shorn in 2018-19 by 6.6pc to 71.7 million head, with a 4.4pc reduction in annual average cut per head to 4.25kg because of the tough season.
Committee chairman Russell Pattinson said the committee brought forward its usual December meeting into November to “provide the industry with an updated forecast for the remainder of the current season”.
“The second forecast made in August at 322mkg was contingent on how the season progressed over the spring period,” Mr Pattinson said.
“Tough seasonal conditions have continued in many regions and as the wool textile industry is monitoring the situation closely, it was important to provide updated information to the market,” he said.
“The season continues to be very difficult through most of NSW and Queensland, northern Victoria and east Gippsland, northern South Australia and parts of southern Western Australia.”
Mr Pattinson said rain in October and early November had slightly improved the outlook.
However he said some parts of WA, the southeast of South Australia, western Victoria and Tasmania were having better seasons.
The committee noted that to the end of October this season, Australian Wool Testing Authority data showed a large increase in the weight of wool tested up to 18.5 microns, as well as a large decline in the weight of 20-23 micron wool and 28.6 microns and broader wool.
Volumes have generally fallen for other micron ranges.
The average mean fibre diameter for the season to the end of October was 20.1 microns, down by 0.5 microns, the committee said.
The average staple length across Australia has fallen by 3.2mm to 85.8mm, with all States recording shorter staple length for the season so far compared with the same period last season.
State and national wool production committees will next meet in March and early April.
The full national update forecast report will be available on the Australia Wool Innovation website from tomorrow.