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SYDNEY – Australian wool production is forecast to fall by 5.7 per cent for the 2018/19 season as ongoing drought conditions hit output and wool cuts. The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee has forecast output of 322 mkg of greasy wool, down 19mkg on the 2017/18 season. The committee said the fall reflects an expected reduction in both the number of sheep shorn and average wool cuts per head as a result of the dry seasonal conditions across most of the country. Australia produces 90 per cent of the world’s apparel wool.

Committee chairman, Russell Pattinson said that, “adverse seasonal conditions in many sheep producing areas across Australia have resulted in a high turn-off of sheep and lambs. It will also mean lower average fleece weights in several states.

“The Committee’s first forecast for the 2018/19 season made in April at 333 mkg assumed that normal seasonal conditions would prevail. That has obviously not been the case with conditions worsening in many wool producing regions across Australia”.

Talking to Apparel Insider, Nigel Gosse, country manager UK and Turkey with the Woolmark Company, a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, said: “Nationally, it was the driest July since 2002 and below average for most of southern Australia.

“Drought conditions are affecting most Australian sheep growing regions however, NSW is experiencing the highest levels of drought with the state declared in drought; NSW is the state with the largest wool producing capacity.

“Parts of neighbouring Queensland are also suffering, along with regions in Victoria and South Australia which are also managing extreme dry weather.

“AWI has a range of drought planning, management and recovery resources available for woolgrowers going into, enduring and recovering from drought.”

Wool production is expected to fall in all states except Tasmania with the largest reductions expected in NSW (down 8.9 per cent) and South Australia (down 6 per cent).

“How the season progresses over the next couple of months will be very important for overall production levels this season,” added a note from the committee.

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