Wool production down to due drought

By Rodney Woods

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee has updated its forecast of shorn wool production for the 2019-20 season, with a five per cent drop on expected 2018-19 figures.

This forecast is predicting a production of 285 million kg greasy, a five per cent decline on the 2018-19 estimate of 300 million kg greasy, which in itself is a 12.1 per cent decline on the 2017-18 season.

Acting committee chair Chris Wilcox said seasonal conditions in key wool producing regions in western Victoria, south-east South Australia and Western Australia were reasonable.However, significant parts of NSW, Queensland, eastern Victoria and the pastoral regions of South Australia continue to experience dry to drought conditions.

The committee noted the key factor limiting a recovery in shorn wool production was the number of sheep shorn, following high adult sheep slaughter rates in 2018-19 and lamb marking numbers are reported to be low.

"The sheep and lamb turn-off data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to the end of June 2019 show a 16 per cent increase in sheep slaughter compared with the same period a year earlier," Mr Wilcox said.

"This has partly been offset by lower live export numbers."Tough seasonal conditions have continued to negatively affect pasture feed availability and low supplies of hay and grain have prompted many producers to make difficult decisions to reduce the number of sheep on farms."Availability of stock water is also reported to be a key issue in some areas, notably in NSW and Queensland.”

The committee noted results from the latest MLA and AWI Wool and Sheepmeat Survey, which indicated that where possible, wool producers intend to hold onto, and perhaps increase, breeding ewe numbers.

But the committee acknowledged that this required normal spring rainfall through many wool producing areas to build soil moisture, on-farm water supplies and allow good pasture growth.

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