WOOL production in Western Australia is tipped to decline by 9.5 per cent this season, in contrast to other main wool-producing States where it is expected to increase.
A record number of ewes and lambs sold out of WA into the Eastern States between July and November and drier seasonal conditions in WA are the reasons attributed by the Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) for its WA forecast.
In its third and latest forecast for the season, released a week before Christmas, the AWPFC predicted 2020-21 WA shorn wool production will decline 9.5pc to 54.1 million kilograms - putting it only 1.5mkg ahead of its prediction for South Australia where it believes wool production will increase by 5.2pc.
Victorian wool production will lift 7.4pc to 67.9mkg and New South Wales production will increase 1pc to 95.2mkg, it predicted.
Tasmanian wool production is set to jump 16.7pc this season on better seasonal conditions, but this will only take it to 10.5mkg, the AWPFC said in its report.
It expects national wool production will increase 1.1pc to 287mkg.
The committee's previous August forecast was 279mkg.
"Most wool producing regions in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have had exceptional spring seasons with high feed availability and relatively low sheep numbers leading to increased fleece weights in many regions," said AWPFC chairman Russell Pattinson.
"However, persistent dry conditions throughout Western Australia and Queensland continue, with further year-on-year declines in shorn wool production expected in both these States."
The number of sheep shorn remains a key factor limiting recovery in Australian shorn wool production, Mr Pattinson said.
The AWPFC expects the number of sheep shorn in 2020-21 to decline nationally by 5.5pc to 64.8m.
Its revised estimate of the number of sheep shorn in 2019-20 was 68.6m, down from 72.5m in 2018-19.
The further decline in shorn sheep numbers predicted this season reflected "lower opening sheep numbers and a reduction in premature shearing", the AWPFC said in its report.
On a national basis, the AWPFC said average wool cut per head for the season is expected to increase by 7.3pc -to 4.43kg per head - because of improved seasonal conditions, along with wool producers returning to longer shearing intervals and some delays in shearing due to reduced shearer availability resulting in longer fleece wool.
"This is particularly true in Western Australia following record levels of interstate transfer of ewes and lambs to southern and Eastern States between July and November," it said.
The AWPFC said Australian Wool Testing Authority data from bale core tests and sheep and lamb turn off data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the September quarter supported its forecast of stabalised wool production across Australia except in WA and Queensland.
The committee also adjusted its final wool production estimate for 2019-20 to 284mkg which it said reflected sustained dry and drought conditions across much of the country last season.
The AWPFC takes advice from six State committees and government and other agencies in preparing its forecasts.
The State and national committees will meet in mid-April the prepare the next forecast.
The latest forecast report will be available on the Australian Wool Innovation website at wool.com/forecasts from today, Thursday, December 31.