By Andrew Woods | Source: AWEX, NZWTA, ICS
A combination of commercial sensitivity between testing houses in New Zealand and limited public auction data means details of the New Zealand merino clip are relatively scarce. Mecardo combines the available data from NZWTA and Australian auction data to estimate the makeup of the New Zealand merino clip and compares it to the merino clip from north eastern NSW (mainly the New England).
The New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA) does publish annual profiles (in graphic form) of the New Zealand merino wool that they test ( https://nzwta.co.nz/test-statistics/ ). This provides a view of the distribution of the key specifications (fibre diameter, staple strength, staple length and vegetable matter) for this clip. In volume terms the New Zealand merino clip is estimated to be around 40,000 farm bales in total, which is slightly smaller than the 65,000 farm bales of merino wool produced in north eastern NSW in 2016-17.
New Zealand Merino sell around one third of the New Zealand merino clip at auction in Melbourne each season. Sale data from the 2016-17 season has been used to develop distributions for fibre diameter, staple strength and staple length, with the NZWTA graphs used as a check on the Melbourne auction data.
Figure 1 shows the micron distribution for the New Zealand merino wool sold in Melbourne and wool from north eastern NSW during the 2016-17 season. The mode micron category for the New Zealand wool is around the 17-18 micron range, as it is for the New England wool. The New England clip does have broader tail than the New Zealand clip sold in Australia, with a substantial proportion of 19 and 20 micron wool. The NZWTA analysis shows a similar proportion of 19 micron wool tested in New Zealand (around 15% of the clip) and a smaller proportion of 20 micron (around 5%). It seems the New Zealand merino clip is slightly finer with a narrower micron distribution than the New England.
Figure 2 repeats the process with staple strength. The New England clip has a higher proportion of high staple strength wool than the Melbourne sold New Zealand clip. Once gain the NZWTA graphs show that the actual New Zealand profile (in this case for staple strength) is probably closer to the New England profile than the auction data is showing.
In Figure 3 staple length is analysed. The mode length for the New England is 80-90 mm, with the New Zealand clip slightly shorter (confirmed by the NZWTA graph). The model length for the New Zealand clip looks to be in the 75-85 mm range. Only combing wool is sold by the Kiwis in Melbourne so the staple length distribution is skewed slightly as a result.
When considering the prospects of prices for the better style fine wools, seasonal conditions in north east NSW are looked at as they will tell us about likely changes in supply and the flow on effect on price. The Merino New Zealand clip is quite similar to the New England clip in key characteristics (fibre diameter profile, staple strength profile and staple length profile) so sheep numbers and seasonal conditions in New Zealand merino regions should be monitored as well.
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