Wool testing numbers steady

Wool testing numbers steady

Sheep
TESTING TIME: AWTA sampling operations manager for eastern Australia Tim Steere said, "we have been busier than we would normally have expected to be".

TESTING TIME: AWTA sampling operations manager for eastern Australia Tim Steere said, "we have been busier than we would normally have expected to be".

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Wool samples for testing continue at near normal rates despite the fears over coronavirus.

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Uncertainty about the ongoing effect of COVID-19 restrictions and short selling weeks have muddied the waters for wool markets.

With autumn shearing already affected by social distancing and hygiene requirements, wool growers have been caught in a quandary about their selling programs.

Elders area wool manager Glendon Hancock, St Arnaud, said he had never seen so much wool as that stored in farmers' sheds, as well as in the wool stores.

Mr Hancock said wool growers in his region largely ran self-replacing flocks and sheep numbers had remained steady.

He said the area had an exceptional year in 2019 and no shortage of feed right through the summer "and now we've had an early break".

With an early break and a good green cover, the yields should be good and cuts per head would also be higher.

"We've had it as good as we can get it in the past 12 months," Mr Hancock said.

Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) statistics showed it had tested 236.7 million kilograms of wool nationally this season compared with 250.4mkg for the equivalent period last season.

AWTA sampling operations manager for eastern Australia Tim Steere said given the drought and other issues in the world, "we have been busier than we would normally have expected to be".

He said growers were still sending wool to the store and that wool was still being tested.

National bale tests so far this season were down 5.9 per cent on the same period last season.

In March, it tested 171,630 bales nationally, down 4.6pc on bale tests in March last year.

In Victoria, 64,851 bales were tested in March, down just 2.2pc on March 2019.

A further 19,454 bales had been tested up to April 10, according to AWTA data.

Mr Steere said the Victorian figures included wool samples sourced from outside the state.

Figures for yield, micron and length of staple were within the normal range.

In South Australia, March bale test numbers declined 3.5pc year-on-year and, in NSW, bale testing declined 7.8pc year-on-year.

In Western Australia, there were 43,027 bales in March, down 3.3pc on March 2019.

So far this season, July 1-March 31, 292,476 bales were tested in WA, down 2.7pc on the same period last season.

On top of the COVID-19 impacts, the 2019/20 bushfires were expected to curb wool production by about 112,000 kg greasy.

That amount was 0.04pc of the current Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) forecast for the 2019-20 season of 272mkg.

Up to 80pc of the estimated 70,000 sheep lost in the bushfires were on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

The AWPFC was due to meet later this month to review its shorn sheep numbers and wool production estimates for the current season and its first estimates for next season.

But it released initial comment on the impact of the bushfires as part of the March report on wool test data by the AWTA.

It said it was aware of "trade concerns regarding the impact of the Australian bushfires on shorn wool production".

"Assuming 40pc of these sheep (killed in bushfires) would have been shorn between February and June 2020 at an average of 4kg of greasy wool per head, the AWPFC expects the impact of the fires on shorn wool production to be about 112,000kg greasy," it stated.

National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia executive director Chris Wilcox said demand at selling centres in the week ending April 9 had seen increased demand.

That was matched by lower volumes from growers who were willing to meet the market.

Prices for Merino wool lifted by up to 57 cents in the eastern auction centres and the EMI finished the week 14c up at 1301c/kg.

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