The fall in Australia’s sheep numbers will outweigh any improvement in average fleece weights to potentially push wool production lower in 2014-15, the Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee said today.
The committee’s updated forecast sets shorn wool production for 2014/15 at 334 million kilograms, down two percent from the 2013/14 season total of 341 mkg.
The flock as of July 1 this year was estimated at 71.8 million and 74.3 million are forecast to be shorn in the 2014-15 year.
Average fleece weight is forecast to increase
Nationally, average fleece weights are expected to increase (+2.9pc) to 4.49 kilograms, due to better than expected fleece weights in some parts of NSW, Victoria and South Australia, but this will not be enough to offset fully the estimated decline in the number of sheep shorn (-4.7pc), the committee said.
Committee chairman, Russell Pattinson said that while the committee expected in August that average fleece weights would improve this season, the increase appears to have been better than anticipated in some regions, notably in the southern half of New South Wales where seasonal conditions are reported to be very good.
“The fall in the number of sheep shorn across the country will still outweigh the improvement in average fleece weights.”
Mr Pattinson said the committee took into account the latest sheep and lamb turn-off figures from the National Livestock reporting Service.
“If you look at the figures year-on-year the difference in wool production this year is the result of the reduction in sheep and in sheep shorn, including lambs, offset against the slight increase in average fleece weights.”
Wool cuts down in all regions except southern NSW
The committee said the very poor seasonal conditions in Queensland are expected to lead to production in that state falling to the lowest on record.
Elsewhere, northern New South Wales shorn wool production has also been affected by poor seasons, although this has been offset by the improvement in the southern half of the state. Western Australia and Victoria are expected to see a decline for the season, the committee said.
South Australia should see higher production this season even though conditions are expected to be more difficult in the second half of the season than the first half. The same is true for Tasmania, where production is forecast to be down slightly, the committee said.
The committee noted that the AWTA wool test data shows a reduction in the fine end of the clip, especially wool 16.5 microns and finer, in the first five months of the season.
The full forecast report will be available on the AWI website at www.wool.com/forecasts from December 19, 2014.