WOOL test statistics for last month indicate Western Australia's spring clip continues to be affected less by seasonal conditions than clips in other major wool producing States.
According to Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) statistics released Tuesday, the number of bales tested across Australia last month fell 14.6 per cent, when compared to September last year.
In Victoria and South Australia, bale test numbers fell by 20.1pc and 16.9pc respectively and in drought-ravaged New South Wales, where they were down significantly in September last year, they fell a further 8.5pc last month.
In WA, AWTA tests fell 13.4pc with 27,233 bales tested.
This compared to 46,470 bales tested in Victoria, 37,471 tested in NSW and 16,187 tested in SA, with spring shearing well underway in all those States.
But there is anecdotal evidence from wool brokers visiting farms that the number of bales tested in WA by AWTA may not accurately represent the size of this year's spring clip so far.
Brokers have commented that because of the current volatility of wool prices, some of WA's spring clip is likely to be stored on-farm untested until the pricing outlook becomes clearer and therefore is not reflected in AWTA's statistics.
Because the cost of testing lines of wool is borne by woolgrowers, testing is normally ordered just before the wool is due to go to auction so the testing cost is generally recouped immediately.
Brokers speculate that in parts of NSW, SA and northern Victoria affected by prolonged drought, woolgrowers may not be able to afford the luxury of putting their wool in the shed and waiting for prices to improve, so test statistics for those States may more accurately reflect actual production.
So far this season (July-September), the number of bales tested in WA is down 8.9pc on the same period last season, to 63,352.
In Victoria, the number of bales tested is down 18.8pc to 115,928, in SA it is down 16.2pc to 37,964 and in NSW down 12.4pc to 106,515.
So far the WA spring clip has also exhibited some better specifications than the spring clips in eastern States, when compared to September last year.
According to AWTA, last month the average yield from WA wool clips tested improved slightly to 63pc, while yields for clips in NSW, Victoria and SA slipped slightly to 63.1pc, 63.3pc and 61.4pc respectively.
There was less vegetable matter (VM) contamination of WA clips at 1.6pc, compared to 2pc VM in SA clips, 1.9pc in Victoria and 1.8pc in NSW.
While the average WA spring clip was finer at 19.1 micron than the 20, 20.3 and 20.1 microns of the average clips in NSW, Victoria and SA, importantly the WA clips showed significantly less tendency for wool staples to break in the middle under stress than the clips from the other States.
The WA clips also maintained good staple strength at 32N/kt average last month, an increase of 1.4pc according to AWTA, while the average staple strength in NSW, Victoria and SA slipped slightly.
WA still produced the shortest wool at 87.5 millimetres of those major producing States, but the difference in average staple length across Australia is now much closer than it has been.
Last month 65.8pc of the WA spring clip was assessed as superfine at 19.5 microns or less.
Only NSW had a higher proportion of superfine wool in its clip at 67.1pc.
So far this season AWTA has tested 62.4 million kilograms of wool nationally, compared with 72.6mkg for the equivalent period last season.
This reduced volume of tested wool available for sale has partly contributed to gross turnover from Australian Wool Exchange live wool auctions so far this season plummeting $404.89 million to $424.93m when compared to the same period last season.