A BALE of 19 micron wool was worth $204 more in December (after the last wool auction of 2016) than it was on the first sale day of the year back in January.
According to Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) indicative statistics, a 185 kilogram bale of 19 micron wool was worth $1928 at the end of trading last Thursday.
The same bale on January 13 was worth $1724.
A five-kilogram 19 micron wool cut was worth $5 more last week, at $52 per sheep, than it was in January and a 6kg cut was worth $7 more at $63, according to AWEX.
Those statistics tell the story of wool for 2016 and, thanks to an exceptional season, WA's woolgrowers did relatively better than some Eastern States counterparts.
The Western Indicator finished the year at 1421 cents per kilogram clean, up 60c from where it started the year, after a firm but flat final day of trading at the Western Wool Centre (WWC).
At 1680, 1620 and 1561c/kg, 18.5, 19 and 19.5 micron respectively, Merino fleece finished the year with a 36-month price position of better than 98 per cent - that is, over the past three years the prices have only been higher less than 2pc of the time.
At 1712c/kg 18 micron fleece price position was 97.3pc and at 1485c/kg 20 micron fleece price position was 96.8pc.
The price position for individual broader micron wools at the close of trade varied between 85 and 90pc.
Merino cardings, one of the in-demand stars of the year at the WWC, finished on 1131c/kg with a price position of 95.4pc.
End-of-year high prices at the WWC were recorded despite a national offering of 55,000 bales over the last two sale days, the largest total on offer since January.
International buyers had plenty of choice but stuck with WA wool.
Alan Brown, Chinatex's WWC buyer, mostly kept his head and hands down as Chinatex came in eighth place twice and sixth on the daily buyers' lists, with only 790 bales purchased over the last three sales of the year.
By comparison, top buyers at each sale were PJ Morris Wool with 564 bales, West Coast Wools with 733 bales and Tianyu Wool with 533 bales.
Elders Wool WA wool sales manager Danny Burkett described 2016 as "a cracker".
"The good thing about it was because it was so good all year, all woolgrowers got to enjoy some good returns," Mr Burkett said.
"The patience of the fine wool growers was rewarded over the past three to four months."
"The wool that has been grown, has been sold, shipped and turned into tops or garments and is on the racks in retail outlets.
"There is very little greasy wool on-farm, in store or being held by processors, which is a good sign of things to come for the new year and also a good thing for the market.
"In the past when the price has started to move up we've had this sudden influx onto the market of surplus wool held in store which has stifled the price run.
Primaries of WA wool manager Greg Tilbrook had a similar assessment.
"The best part about it (2016) was we just didn't have the lows we've had in the past," Mr Tilbrook said.
"The main microns had a trading range of about 1370 to 1450c/kg across the year with some spikes but not the dips and it's meant growers have been able to achieve good profitability.
"For the 21s (micron wools) in August, 1480 (c/kg) was some of the best money for growers, in terms of profitability, that I've ever seen.
"We also saw the emergence of the Europeans to give the Chinese some competition for the finer microns.
"The (price) spread across the 18 to 21 microns is usually 50-80c but this year it was more like 200c so the fine wool growers saw good demand and rewards for their efforts.
"And there's not a lot of wool anywhere in the supply pipeline so I think in the new year we can expect really good markets through to Easter," Mr Tilbrook said.
- This article first appeared on www.farmweekly.com.au