Favourable spring conditions were a welcomed relief on parched land, but summer rain has wreaked havoc with seed and burr contamination in wool.
Following mass seed set in the eastern states, buyer concern of severe fleece contamination for wool produced in pastoral zones and high rainfall areas is becoming a reality as large volumes of wool with high vegetable matter (VM) is discounted.
Australian Wool Exchange senior market analyst Lionel Plunkett said the national VM average was more than two per cent.
“The problematic area for VM is the Northern Region, with wool coming out of Queensland and NSW where they’ve had a very good season,” Mr Plunkett said.
“After being consistently below last year’s average, the Western Region in WA has doubled their VM volume from spring levels to now – jumping a dramatic 0.4pc to 0.8pc.
“In Queensland, the seasonal impact has been the most evident where the average VM in Merino fleece has jumped from 2pc in spring to currently over 5pc.”
Barrel and burr medic, seed and shive VM content has jumped in NSW, with seed contamination in the fleece increasing from 2.7pc VM in September to 3.3pc this month.
Summer rains in South Australia and Victoria has helped stable VM contamination in the states which have loitered between 1.5-2pc since spring.
“Quality issues are coming to the fore as we receive an increase supply of high VM and low yielding fleece wools,” Elders southern wool sale manager Lachie Brown said.
“Exporters are watching it closely with the likely outcome being a two tiered market, whereby discounts for those high VM, low yielding wools will start to increase.”
Mr Brown said in comparative seasons 3pc VM in the standard fleece wools would expect to receive a 7-8pc discount.
Primaries of WA wool manager Greg Tilbrook said east coast buyers were sourcing lower VM lots from the Western Region auctions to supplement orders to average about 1.5pc VM overall.
“If buyers can’t secure enough of the freer (VM) wools in Melbourne, they’re looking to the west,” Mr Tilbrook said.
“In WA we didn’t see that big increase because of the spray-topping done last year.”
Jemalong Wool regional manager Tim Drury, Tamworth, NSW, said high VM lots were being punished by discounts of up to 100 cents a kilogram clean in cases above 4pc.
“Buyers are discounting heavily at the moment, anything from 2-2.5pc is the cut off they’ve drawn, conversely anything under 1.5pc VM is attracting a good premium,” Mr Drury said.