Article by: Hari Yellina
The Australian wool clip has been impacted by continued good seasons across the key wool growing regions, with an increase in over-length fleeces hitting the market. Discounts of up to 200 cents have been reported in the finer micron categories. The optimal length of a Merino fleece varies depending on the micron, but for 17 to 19 micron wools, a staple length of 80 to 90 millimetres is optimum, and the sounder the better. “In the last two seasons, the fraction of 18-micron wool that is 110-120mm long has tripled,” Mr Woods added. According to independent commodity analyst Andrew Woods, the proportion of 110-120mm long combing wool in the larger micron categories has doubled, if not quadrupled.
There has been an increase in the 110-120mm long 17-micron, although it is not nearly as severe as it was previously. In the previous two seasons, the fraction of extra length wool in 19 to 21-micron Merino combing wool has nearly doubled. Over-length sub-19 micron fleece discounts are substantial, with the discount growing as the fibre diameter decreases finer. Mr Woods said, “The discounts have fluctuated from insignificant to 200c, with the discount in February back up to over 200c.” “In fine wool, where the typical staple length has historically been shorter and European processors’ preferred staple length is geared to shorter length wool, over length discounts are more substantial.”
Wool up to 110 or 112mm is not seeing large discounts, according to Nutrien Ag Solutions wool trader David Hart. “Those lengths are still less than ideal,” Mr Hart added, “but customers tell me they can position those wools.” “The issue with those incredibly long wools is that a lot of them are fragile and break in the centre,” says the expert. It all comes down to processing efficiency, he added. “There are some lines of wool on the market that processors will have a hard time with,” Mr Hart added. Processors, top-makers, and spinners all prefer to run their machines at a fast pace in order to maximise efficiency.