Shearing at shorter intervals continues to be popular among growers.
As a result, there is a rising trend in supply of short length Merino combing fleece.
The annual supply of short length Merino combing wool (50-69mm greasy length) as a proportion of Merino combing fleece started to lift in the 2015-2016 season and has trended higher in the three seasons since.
In 2014-15, some 11 per cent of Merino fleece wool at auction was 50-69 mm in length, whereas the estimate for the full 2018-2019 season is 17.3pc.
This also reduces the supply for full-length Merino fleece, at a time of severely constrained supply.
The increased level of supply year on year is likely to continue the pressure on prices for shorter length fleece wool compared to full-length fleece wool.
Back in 2013, the discount for shorter length fleece decreased significantly.
This low-level discount of between 20-60 cents sustained through to 2017.
At the seasonal peak in supply of short length fleece wool from 2016 onwards, the discount widened, so the implication is that the discount will widen again come mid-2019, especially given the supply of short length wool will be higher than in 2018.
What does it mean?
Farmers are good at responding to price signals and the increase in supply of short length Merino fleece since 2015-2016 fits with a delayed response to the minimal discounts for short length wool which started in 2013.
The fashion cycle has turned, as it usually does, and discounts for carding length wool have reverted to pre-2013 levels.
Short length Merino fleece discounts will have to contend with both this change in cardings price levels and a continued increase in supply in 2019, which should see discounts widen, especially in mid-2019.