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Good preparation will boost mid-micron wool prices

WoolPro and wool exporters say farmers who take time to prepare mid-micron wool properly, will be well-rewarded this season.

Overall mid-micron prices are very good and demand is strong for good colour, well-prepared lines.

WoolPro senior valuer, Struan Hulme, says mid-micron farmers, classers, shearing contractors and wool handlers who are about to start shearing should think hard about classing and preparation to capitalise on the strong market.

He says the main things to watch out for are diameter, length, colour and preparation.

"There has been good summer growth this year, and it’s likely that the wool will tend to be stronger than normal.

"With a Chinese contract cut-off of 28.8 micron applying this year, classers should aim for the traditional approach of classing for three lines instead of the common practice of removing only the few extremes, and having only one main line.

"At the moment the difference between 28 and 29 microns is approximately 30–50 c/kg. This could change over the next few weeks as more wool comes on the market.

"However, the price differentials between correctly prepared and ‘all-in’ lots will cover the costs associated with correct shed preparation.

"We recommend a fine line that is finer than 27.5 microns, a medium line no stronger than 28.8 microns and a strong line of wools stronger than 28.8 microns.

"The main line has to be finer than 27.5 micron to get the premiums."

Mr Hulme says classers should keep length even in a line, and make sure main lines are 100 mm or longer.

"Length evenness within lines is very important, especially with 75/125 mm being the main length in the clip. However, wools that are 100/125 mm or 100/150 mm are more versatile.

"Exporters say they expect definite premiums every sale for these longer wools.

"Classers should make sure main lines are 100 mm and above. This means taking out anything shorter than 75/100 mm and 50/100 mm."

Mr Hulme says that careful classing on colour and for low vegetable matter will also earn premiums.

"Keep Y-Z figures to less than 2.5, and minimise the amount of B grade wools. It is important to keep out the visually very hard colour because of its limited textile use.

"Necks and backs should be kept separate from the fleece to make sure the vegetable matter content is below 1 per cent. This also applies to all oddments, with careful preparation required.

"Keep fribs out of the bellies. Take the eye clips and cotted collar out of necks as kemps create dyeing problems. These are all topmaking types and with demand for fleece wool being strong at the moment, combing oddments will also sell well.

"Good, well-prepared oddments will bring close to fleece price.

"Do not mix bellies and pieces together as mainly pieces have a better combing result and better colour, and fetch a premium."

And Hulme says farmers should always tidy the woolshed and remove any sources of contamination before shearing begins.

"That means getting rid of all the polypropylene, sisal and hemp from the woolshed or yards.

"Clear out non-essential items like chemicals, bags of fertiliser and animal feed, and remove raddle, crayons and aerosol markets from the wool room.

"Demand should remain strong in the short to medium future, but some easing in prices is possible. Good classing and preparation are essential."


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