Australian wool producers are feeling the pinch of the continuing dry conditions, with the average fibre diametre of their fleeces down by half a micron and shorter staple lengths recorded for all states.
The average mean fibre diameter for the season to the end of October was 20.1 microns, down by 0.5 microns, and staple length has fallen by by 3.2 millimetres to 85.8 mm.
The Australian Wool Forecasting Committee has forecasted a fall in shorn wool production reflecting an expected reduction in both the number of sheep shorn and the average annual wool cut per head.
The updated forecast of shorn wool production in 2018/19 is 305 mkg greasy, down by 10.8 per cent from 2017/18.
High sheep slaughter to the end of September is expected to reduce the number of sheep shorn in 2018/19 by 6.6pc to 71.7 million head, with a 4.4pc reduction in annual average cut per head to 4.25 kg.
Committee Chairman, Russell Pattinson said that the committee brought forward their usual December meeting into November to provide the industry with an updated forecast for the remainder of the current season.
“The second forecast made in August at 322 mkg was contingent on how the season progressed over the spring period,” Mr Pattinson said.
“Tough seasonal conditions have continued in many regions and as the wool textile industry is monitoring the situation closely, it was important to provide updated information to the market”.
Shorn wool production in NSW is expected to decline by 20pc to 100 mkg and by 14pc in Queensland to 7.1 mkg compared to the 2017/18 season.
Rain in October and early November has slightly improved the outlook for wool production in parts of the country.
For other wool producing areas, the situation has been more positive with the southeast of South Australia, western Victoria, Tasmania and parts of Western Australia having better seasons that other parts of the country.
Shorn wool production is expected to fall by amounts varying between 0.3pc in Tasmania and 8.0pc in South Australia.
For the 2018/19 season to the end of October, the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) test data showed a large increase in the weight of wool tested in all micron ranges up to 18.5 microns as well as a large decline in the weight of 20 to 23 micron wool and 28.6 microns and broader wool.
Volumes have generally fallen for other micron ranges.