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Decline in Australian wool production in 2015/16 greater than expected

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The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) has revised its forecast of shorn wool production for the 2015/16 season to 322 million kilograms greasy, a 7.0% decline on the estimate of 346 mkg for the 2014/15 season.

Committee Chairman, Russell Pattinson commented that “seasonal conditions in a number of the major sheep producing regions in Australia have been drier than expected over Spring which has resulted in lower fleece weights and, more recently, reports of increased sheep turn-off. Victoria, Tasmania, the south-east and north-west of South Australia, and the Great Southern region in Western Australia have all experienced difficult seasons. Among other things this has caused problems with stock water availability.

“The major sheep regions of Queensland continue to see very tough conditions and the sell-off of sheep continues in that state. Even in New South Wales, there are areas where seasonal conditions have been more difficult than expected. These tough conditions are only being partially offset by good to very good conditions in north-eastern South Australia and parts of New South Wales.”

The 7% decline comes following six season of relatively stable wool production of between 340 and 350 mkg greasy.

The AWPFC’s final estimate of shorn wool production for the 2014/15 season is 346 mkg, an increase of 1.7% over the previous season. As noted in August, this increase is in line with, but less than, the increase seen in AWTA tests, ABS wool receivals and AWEX auction offerings for 2014/15. Some of the increase in wool tests, receivals and auction offerings late in the 2014/15 season was attributed to the release of on-farm stocks held over from previous seasons as well as the forward offering of wool held in brokers’ stores and earlier than usual deliveries of recently shorn wool in response to the spike in wool prices in May and June. It is expected that, as these stocks will not be available in 2015/16, the AWTA test data and ABS receivals data in 2015/16 will fall by more than the decline in production.

The Committee noted that for the 2015/16 season to November, the AWTA test data showed a reduction in volumes of wool between 20.6 and 24.5 microns, with smaller declines for finer Merino wool and for Crossbred wool. This resulted in a 0.1 micron decline in the mean fibre diameter for Australia to November.

The National Committee drew on advice from the six State Committees, each of which includes growers, brokers, private treaty merchants, representatives from State Departments of Agriculture, and the Australian Wool Testing Authority.

Data and input was also drawn from AWEX, wool exporters, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABARES, AWTA and Meat and Livestock Australia.

The full forecast report will be available on the AWI website at www.wool.com/forecasts from 24th December 2015.

Source: AWI

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