Australia wool production impacted by tough season

Friday, 16 November 2018
  • The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee’s updated forecast of shorn wool production in 2018/19 is 305 mkg greasy, down by 10.8% from 2017/18.
  • Continuing dry conditions in New South Wales, Queensland, northern Victoria, east Gippsland and the northern parts of South Australia have been tempered somewhat by the better seasonal conditions in the south east South Australia, the midlands of Tasmania, western Victoria and parts of Western Australia.
  • High sheep slaughter to the end of September is expected to reduce the number of sheep shorn in 2018/19 by 6.6% to 71.7 million head, with a 4.4% reduction in annual average cut per head to 4.25 kg as a result of the tough seasonal conditions.

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee has updated its forecast for the 2018/19 season to 305 mkg greasy. This is a 10.8% decline on the Committee’s shorn wool production estimate of 341 mkg greasy for the 2017/18 season. The fall reflects an expected reduction in both the number of sheep shorn and the average annual wool cut per head as a result of the continuing difficult seasonal across many of the major wool producing regions of the country.

Committee Chairman, Russell Pattinson said that "the Committee brought forward their 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 322 mkg was contingent on how the season progressed over the Spring period. 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”.

Mr Pattinson 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”. In these regions, both the number of sheep shorn and the annual average cut per head are expected to decline considerably. Shorn wool production in NSW is expected to decline by 20% to 100 mkg and by 14% in Queensland to 7.1 mkg compared to the 2017/18 season.

Rain in October and early November has slightly improved the outlook for wool production in parts of the country.

For other wool producing areas, the situation has been more positive with the southeast of South Australia, western Victoria, Tasmania and parts of Western Australia having better seasons that other parts of the country. Shorn wool production is expected to fall by amounts varying between 0.3% in Tasmania and 8.0% in South Australia.

The Committee noted that for the 2018/19 season to the end of October, the AWTA test data showed a large increase in the weight of wool tested in all micron ranges up to 18.5 microns as well as a large decline in the weight of 20 to 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 average staple length across Australia has fallen by 3.2 mm to 85.8 mm, with all States recording shorter staple length for the season to date compared with the same period in 2017/18.

Table 1: Summary of wool production estimates and forecasts for Australia 

Parameter

2016/17
Final
Estimate

2017/18
Final
Estimate

Change
y-o-y
(%)

2018/19
Third Forecast

Change
y-o-y
(%)

Sheep numbers shorn (million head)

74.3

76.8

+3.3%

71.7

-6.6%

Average cut per head (kg/head)

4.58

4.45

-2.9%

4.25

-4.4%

Shorn wool production
(mkg greasy)

340

341

+0.3%

305

-10.8%

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Table 2: Total shorn wool production by State - 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19

mkg greasy

NSW

VIC

WA

SA

TAS

QLD

NATIONAL

2016/17 Final Estimate (mkg)

126.0

67.4

71.1

57.9

9.2

8.5

340

2017/18 Final Estimate (mkg)

125.7

73.5

65.1

59.5

9.3

8.3

341

Change y-o-y %

-0.3%

+8.9%

-8.5%

+2.7%

+1.5%

-3.0%

+0.3%

2018/19 Third Forecast (mkg)

100.0

70.7

62.7

54.7

9.3

7.1

305

Change y-o-y %

-20.4%

-3.7%

-3.6%

-8.0%

-0.3%

-14.0%

-10.8%

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

The National Committee drew on advice from the six State Committees, each of which includes growers, brokers, private treaty merchants, representatives from State Departments of Agriculture and the Australian Wool Testing Authority. Data and input was also drawn from AWEX, wool exporters, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABARES, and Meat and Livestock Australia.

The state and national Committees will next meet in March and early April 2019.
The full forecast report will be available on the AWI website at www.wool.com/forecasts from 23rd November 2018.

Ends
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