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Thank the Weather: Australian Wool Production Forecast Upgraded

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) has updated its outlook of shorn wool production for the 2020-21 season by 2.1 percent to 290 million kilograms (mkg) compared to the final estimate of 284 mkg in 2019-20 season.

Most wool-growing regions are experiencing a favorable season and sheep are in good condition, the committee said. Western Australia, the pastoral region of South Australia, and Queensland have reaped the benefit of recent widespread rainfall that has replenished on-farm water stocks.

“On the back of good seasonal conditions, wool producers intend to rebuild their ewe numbers in many key wool producing regions by retaining more replacement and older ewes than normal,” committee chairman Russell Pattinson said.

The number of sheep shorn in Australia during 2020-21 was forecast to fall 4.5 percent to 65.5 million. The average yield per sheep is projected to be up 7.2 percent nationally to 4.43 kilograms (kg) for the season. AWPFC said favorable conditions in many wool-growing regions are driving the increase in yield per sheep.

Key test data shows a significant increase in staple length to 89 millimeters, up 2.9 milliliters compared with the July to March period last year. However, some of the increase in staple length can be attributed to delayed shearing.

AWTA wool test volumes to the end of March 2021 were down 0.9 percent year-on-year. However, there has been a sharp increase in AWTA wool testing volumes from February to April, the committee said. First-quality wool at the most recent auction was up 12.1 percent. The report said the increase was partly due to the upward movement in wool prices evident in recent months as producers liquidate wool stocks.

The AWPFC’s first forecast of shorn wool production for the 2021-22 season is 305 mkg, a 5.1percent increase on the current season forecast due to a modest increase in the number of sheep shorn and the average yield.

The committee expects that the current low sheep numbers will restrict larger increases in shorn wool production in the short term despite the favorable seasonal conditions across many wool-producing regions in the country.