Wool production unchanged in 2016/17

  • The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee predicts that shorn wool production in 2016/17 will be at 325 mkg greasy, the same level as its revised estimate for the 2015/16 season. While opening sheep numbers and sheep shorn are likely to be lower this season than in 2015/16, an improvement in average wool cut per head is expected as a result of far better seasonal conditions, thereby keeping wool production unchanged.
  • The Committee’s estimate of shorn wool production for 2015/16 has been revised to 325 mkg greasy, slightly higher than its April forecast. This is 6.1% below the 2014/15 level, with the decline due to a combination of lower sheep shorn numbers and lower average wool cut.

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) adjusted its forecast of shorn wool production for the 2016/17 season to 325 million kilograms greasy, the same level as its revised estimate for the 2015/16 season. Shorn wool production of 325 mkg greasy in 2015/16 is 6.1% lower than in 2014/15.

Committee Chairman, Russell Pattinson said that “ after an extended period of dry seasonal conditions in many major sheep producing areas, there have been extensive rains since May which have brought vastly improved seasonal conditions and prospects for 2016/17. Many regions are now reporting excellent conditions, which are expected to result in better average wool cuts per head in 2016/17. However, for some states, this improvement is unlikely to become evident until summer and into autumn 2017 as spring shearing will have been affected by the dry conditions up to autumn this year.”

A key influence on wool production in 2016/17 will be lower opening sheep numbers. The very dry conditions in the western half of Victoria, south-east South Australia, Tasmania, parts of New South Wales and throughout Queensland for much of 2015/16 resulted in a continued turn-off of sheep and lambs across much of Australia. While those decisions will mean fewer sheep shorn in these areas in 2016/17, the improved seasonal conditions are expected to see producers retaining more sheep this season.

The Committee estimates that shorn wool production in 2015/16 was 325 mkg greasy, a fall of 6.1% on 2014/15. This is less than the 7% decline in the weight of wool tested by AWTA in 2015/16. This difference is due to the fact that 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. This stock was not available for sale in 2015/16. The Committee’s estimate for 2015/16 also compares with the 5.9% decline in first hand wool offered at auction in 2015/16 reported by AWEX.

The Committee noted that for the 2015/16 season, AWTA test data showed a significant increase in the weight of wool 16.5 micron and finer and no change in the volumes of 17 micron wool. There was a decline in the volumes of wool for all other micron ranges broader than 17 micron and a significant drop in wool volumes between 21.6 and 23.5 microns. The mean fibre diameter for Australia in 2015/16 was 21.0 microns, the same as in 2014/15.

Table 1: Summary of wool production estimates and forecasts for Australia

Parameter 2014/15
Opening sheep (million head) 72.6 70.9 -2.4% 68.4 -3.6%
Sheep numbers shorn (million head) 76.9 73.4 -4.6% 72.2 -1.6%
Average cut per head (kg/head) 4.50 4.43 -1.6% 4.50 +1.7%
Shorn wool production
(mkg greasy)
346 325 -6.1% 325 0.0%

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.

Shorn wool forecasts by State will be available in the Committee’s August report, which will be released soon.

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 AWTA, AWEX, wool exporters, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABARES, and Meat and Livestock Australia.

The full forecast report will be available on the AWI website at www.wool.com/forecasts from 31st August 2016.


Released by:

Marius Cuming
Australian Wool Innovation, Corporate Communications
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +61 400 305 716