WHILE wool production is forecast to escalate 2.2 per cent to 332 million kilograms greasy wool in 2016-17, the Australian sheep flock is set to continue to decline.
The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee credited the growth in a 2.7 per cent increase in average wool cut per head, following favourable season conditions and pasture on offer. The final estimate of shorn wool production for 2015-16 was 325 million kilograms, which falls 6.2 per cent below the prior year.
“Almost all major sheep producing areas across Australia are reported to be experiencing very good to excellent season conditions and an abundance of feed after a very wet spring,” committee chairman Russell Pattinson said.
“Some regions, notably in Victoria, in the tablelands of New South Wales and in Tasmania, have experienced a rather tough winter after seeing very dry conditions up until May, so fleece weights are only now starting to improve.
“The full benefit of the improved seasons is expected to be seen during autumn shearing.”
Wool production is forecast to increase in most states this season, led by a 3.7 per cent increase in Western Australia and South Australia to 67.6 million kilograms and 56.8 million kilograms respectively.
Shorn wool production in South Australia has increased every year since the low point of 47 million kilograms in 2009-10. After the large drop in shorn wool production in Queensland in the past decade, where production had fallen from 20.6 million kilograms in 2006-07 to 6.9 million kilograms in 2015-16, production is forecast to increase by 15 per cent in 2016-17.
This is reportedly boosted by sheep coming back into the state from being agisted in New South Wales. Despite this, Queensland will remain the smallest state with just eight million kilograms production.
Shorn wool production in New South Wales, the largest producing state, is predicted to increase by 1.3 per cent to 124.5 million kilograms.
While wool production in Victoria is expected to be flat next year, this is a recovery from the 6.8 per cent decline in the weight of wool tested in the first five months of the season. Tasmania is the only state where wool production is predicted to decline, though by a small 0.9 per cent to nine million kilograms.
Data from the Australian Wool Testing Authority showed a significant decline in the weight of wool tested between 16.6 to 18.5 micron and wool broader than 26.5 micron. There was an increase in the volumes of wool for all micron ranges between 18.6 micron and 23.5 micron. The mean fibre diameter for Australia in 2016-17 to November was 20.7 microns.