Christmas is closing in rapidly and there are only two wool auction selling weeks remaining for calendar year 2021.
Grain growers are concentrating on completing hay baling programs and harvest is well underway.
Early reports are exciting for canola and barley crops, and wheat is still ripening towards optimum grain moisture content.
Shearing is now down the priority list for mixed farming enterprises as they steam into a harvest that could potentially deliver high yields and grain quality, combined with high prices.
It is exciting times for our farming clients.
But with the La Nina system predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology, summer rainfall could yet create headaches - as it has done in large parts of New South Wales and Queensland.
The wool market continues to roll along nicely, albeit in narrow trading ranges.
Prices have been relatively unchanged in the past month.
Low pass in rates mean growers are happily selling.
And it seems our global wool markets are absorbing all the supply as we hit peak period.
This is encouraging for 2022 as Merino wool stocks become more depleted after they built up following the 2020 economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We can also report that crossbred wool growers are now selling their wool, having stocked it for the past 18 months hoping for a lift in prices.
This section of the market remains flat, and the outlook is bleak for at least the remainder of this season.
The 28 Micron Price Indictor is trading at slightly above 400 cents a kilogram (clean) compared to its peak in 2019 of more than 1300c/kg (clean).
Keep in mind that specialist wool buyers will pay significant premiums for wool that contains low vegetable matter (VM) - particularly for lambs wool types that are 0.3 per cent VM or less.
Shearing before the seed enters the wool is ideal and, of course, protects the lambs from fly strike in the warmer months.
The lambs also grow out much faster when they have been shorn at this time of the season and, given buoyant meat prices, this provides further value for sheep systems.
We can report that wool yield results are 2-3pc above average in most of our growing regions, and the average cut per head remains similar compared to the previous season.
Surprisingly, fibre diameter is finer than last year.
This may have been caused by a long wet and cold winter period.
Fibre tensile strength is also suffering for those shearing annually in the spring, as we can report a lot of ewe wool is below 28 Newtons per kilotext with high mid-breaks.
Tensile strength is difficult to manage due to conditions this season delivering a prolonged wet period.
Many growers are reporting higher worm burdens in their flocks.
Wool topmakers will discount wool that is tender and contains high mid-breaks due to the outcomes they experience when they card and comb the fibre.
These discounts are more obvious in a weaker market and can be substantial, particularly at the finer end of the market.
In contrast, high staple strength wool with low mid-breaks will attract premium prices, as it will convert into wool tops more efficiently with less short fibre lost during the topmaking process.
With sheep numbers expected to bounce back from record lows, we are anticipating wool supply will also rise sharply in 2022.
NSW and Queensland are expected to have significant wool production increases as they buy in ewes from WA and southern markets.
Growers in those states are attempting to breed-up numbers and take advantage of the improved rainfall and subsequent paddock feed.
We are looking forward to some rest and family time during the Christmas and New Year period.
All of us at KareeWool extend to our loyal readers a safe, happy and healthy festive season and we look forward to working with you all in the new year.
In the meantime, KareeWool has some key wool trading tips.
These include calculating and understanding the per kilogram cost of wool production, regularly consulting with a wool service provider about risk management options and knowing wool selling costs - and benchmarking these against others.
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