Pots of gold at end of wool’s rainbow

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Bob GarnantCountryman

Wool performed brilliantly during the 2010–11 season as prices moved upwards giving producers renewed hope of more to come.

World-low supplies of the fibre moved the average Eastern Market Indicator up 31 per cent on the previous season.

Australian Wool Industries Secretariat Peter Morgan said the average EMI for 2010–11 was 1143 cents/kg clean, compared to the 2009–10 average of 872c/kg clean.

“The record average price represents the highest ever in actual terms, ” Mr Morgan said.

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Renewed confidence in wool on the back of excellent sheep prices has given producers strong sentiment towards the retention of sheep, according to the August Wool Production Forecast Committee report.

The shorn wool production for 2011–12 is forecast to be 355 million kilograms greasy, up by 3.8 per cent from its March estimate.

This increase was due to a higher estimate of opening sheep numbers at the start of the 2011-12 season.

The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia executive director Chris Wilcox said more sheep are being retained as growers rebuild their flocks.

“This has resulted in an increase in the opening sheep numbers to over 70 million head shorn, up from 68.1 million a year ago, ” Mr Wilcox said.

“The committee estimates there will be 77.3 million head shorn in 2011–12, up by 3.8 per cent.”

Committee chairman Russell Pattinson said growers wanted to re-invest in sheep and wool.

“The most recent joint MLA/AWI grower survey (June 2011) showed that over 90 per cent of growers intend to maintain or increase sheep numbers in 2011–12, ” he said.

Mr Wilcox said higher wool prices were well spread during the 2010–11 season with all micron indicators up. “Leading the way was the 17 micron indicator which nearly doubled to finish at 2380 cents/kg clean, ” he said.

Australian Superfine Woolgrowers president Helen Cathles said finally prices were good enough for a new generation of participating growers. “Young people are starting to consider superfine production, ” she said.

The Bradshaw family, of Tambellup, have taken up the challenge and their outstanding 2876c/kg clean price has given them confidence to pursue their superfine goals.

G Schneider managing director Don Bellgre said he expected volumes of superfine wool to remain low after several years of dry conditions.

“Growers can be confident the price will remain strong for at least the next 12 months, ” he said.

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