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Quality assurance lifts wool value

9 April 2001

Rural media & farm pages daily media

Quality assurance lifts wool value
[553 words]

Fernmark Quality Programme wools are generally better quality than non-FQP wools and, more often than not, this means better prices.

Attention to quality also helps raise the overall image and status of New Zealand wool in world markets, which has to be good for the long-term future of the fibre.

These two arguments have been used by WoolPro staff doing the annual round of FQP woolshed audits in discussion with growers about the merits of on-farm wool quality assurance.

“Many growers are unsettled by the current debate about the future of the Wool Board and wonder whether quality assurance is worth the extra effort,” says WoolPro FQP audit manager, David Long.

“Answering that question in terms of dollars and cents is always difficult, because it is difficult to determine a premium for mid-micron and crossbred wool prepared under FQP.

“For example, when you compare a 37F2D type non-FQP wool with a 37F2D type FQP wool you probably won’t find a premium. But that’s not the whole story.

“The real difference is in the quality lift FQP preparation gives to wool.”
Preparing wool under FQP guidelines lifts the quality of wool considerably, says Long. FQP wool is better prepared and has fewer faults than non-FQP wool.

“As a result of better preparation and fewer faults FQP wools are almost always lifted by one or two style grades before a sale.

“Better styles enjoy better prices – and over a period the extra income will exceed the cost of preparing the wool correctly.”

Among crossbred wools, the incidence of black fibres, cotts, penstain and skirtings are all lower for FQP wools.

The incidence of cotts in crossbred wools is the most striking difference between FQP and non-FQP wools. WoolPro figures show that cotting in crossbred wools produced on FQP farms has declined significantly since the programme was launched in mid-1996.

In summer, when cotting is less common because the weather is dryer and the sheep generally have shorter wool, FQP wools show almost no cotting. This compares to around 2-3 per cent cotting in non-FQP wools.

However, the difference is starkest during winter. In 1996, around 9 per cent of FQP wools were cotted. This figure dropped to just over 5 per cent last winter.

In contrast, 15-25 per cent of non-FQP wools have cotts.

Not only are the FQP wools of better quality, but their quality has improved, which hasn’t happened for the non-FQP wools.

Other faults, such as skirtings, pen stain and black fibres, generally show similar differences, particularly for mid-micron and crossbred wools.

David Long says that since FQP was launched five years ago there have been clear improvements in woolsheds operating under the programme.

"Lighting is much improved, which makes quality wool preparation easier, and the risk of contamination from string and twine and the like is significantly reduced,” says Long.

Currently some 1500 growers are FQP accredited, accounting for around a quarter of all wool sold at auction.


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