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Weekly Wool Report

Wool Manager’s Report

As Rob has mentioned in this column over the past couple of weeks, I have spent the past 2 weeks visiting customers in Europe. The main purpose of this visit was to meet face to face with those people within the relevant companies that determine the quality, quantity and ultimately price of the wool they purchase. There is no doubt that technology can play a role in reducing the need to travel to our markets, but in my experience there is no substitution for face to face discussion.

Over the course of the 10 days I spent visiting customers I managed to meet with close to 20 different businesses varying from early, mid and late stage processors as well as some retailers to discuss Tasmanian wool and how we can add value to their business with some strategic marketing. Of course some businesses are very price sensitive, particularly when they are competing with Asia. Having said that, there are a number of companies that see significant value in creating a point of difference against their competitors, and most of this involves authenticity, traceability and integrity within the supply chain; something we, as a wool producing state are in the driving seat to provide.

The industry has recognised for decades the high quality wool Tasmania producers, which is fantastic, but this alone is not going to carry us forward and upward to the place we ultimately want to be. We must add further value to this high quality product to then create a point of difference that is hard to replicate.

As I said time and time over the past fortnight, “you need to want to engage. If this is me trying to force something on to the supply chain, it might work initially, but it will have a limited life span and probably not deliver the outcomes either party is looking for” something I got resounding agreement to. The approach must add value to EVERYONE up and down the supply chain, otherwise it will die a natural death.

Realising I was in the hot spot when it comes to animal welfare and in particular the topic of mulesing, I knew I would hear plenty on the issue so I wasn’t surprised when every single company I met with raised the topic. There is absolutely no doubt that some companies are choosing to source some or all of their wool from countries other than Australia as a way of taking the debate off the table. This doesn’t suit all companies however, as many require the high quality wool that Australia produces, and here lies the predicament.

I am certain our customers are only passing on what their customers are asking for, so do we listen or do we shoot the messenger because it’s not what we want to hear?

Another issue that was raised was the use of the National Wool Declaration. While in Tasmania we have the highest rate of use of any state in Australia, there is still over 40% of wool from this state that is not being declared. Regardless of whether you mules or you don’t, I would encourage everyone to complete the NWD for every single bale of wool produced, to allow prospective purchasers to make informed buying decisions.

The market this week has followed the currency and lost 10-20 cents in early trade on Wednesday, with most of the correction coming in the 20 micron and broader categories.

If you would like to discuss these or any other wool related matters please feel free to contact me at

Weekly Wool Report

Wool Managers Report

It’s all about the currency this week. We spoke of a 150 point rally in the AUD last week, well what a difference 7 days makes, the currency reversed dramatically dropping 250 points. What does this move in currency mean in real dollar terms? Using an 18.0 micron as an example, costing approximately 1550 clean at the moment it should equate to a 40 cent improvement in price in AUD. Or over a typical 40,000 bale weekly offering $1.92 million! It is for precisely this reason 95% of the time wool is sold traders dealing in foreign currency lock the rate in immediately as a swing against them can cost them dearly. Of course a swing in their favor can be extremely lucrative but if they want to punt that kind of money they’re just as likely to succeed at the roulette table.

It should come as no surprise that these gains were not realized in full by the market in early trade this week. 18.0 to 19.0 micron and xbreds were the greatest beneficiaries rising 10 to 20 cents everything else was firm to 5 cents dearer. This equated to an Eastern Market Indicator gain of 11 cents AUD but a drop in US terms of 17 cents.

From a national selection point of view there is still an over supply of excessive VM coming out of NSW, SA and WA, making our free selection keenly sought. From now on we will start to see tenderness and midbreak increasing in the national offering, we will have a good idea of how this will impact prices by October / November.

Word out of Europe is that they are still coming back from holidays and are sitting on the fence from a market point of view. Generally exporters are singing from the same hymn sheet telling their customers that supply will be tight throughout this season despite increased rainfall, and that good performing wools will still be in high demand by other interests such as China ensuring the gap between the well grown and well prepared will remain over lower performing types. This is the case for every micron category including xbreds.

The Tasmanian Merino trade mission in Europe finishes today. Interest has been outstanding, our next challenge will be sorting the wheat from the chaff. We have had a trial delivery that we mentioned several months ago inspected by the Italian purchaser and quoted as a “Very Good Delivery” we will provide this feedback to growers involved.

35,000 bales of Australian wool selling over two days in all three centres. And NZ sell 7,000 bales on Tuesday in Melbourne.

Please send any questions to

Weekly Wool Report


In last week’s commentary we pointed to the impending US employment figures as a guide to point the way for future interest rate moves and therefore currency price direction in the near future. The US employment figures came in softer than expected, thus reducing the immediate need for an interest rate increase there and leading to a short term softening of the US$. As the US$ declines, so the A$ rises, and this higher local currency placed some headwinds on the wool market this week.


The lift in the A$ from 75.5US¢ to 76.8US¢ coincided with a 15¢ fall in the EMI over the week to close at 1305¢/kg clean, a fall on the week of 1.1%. Exporter demand softening as the higher dollar making our wool in foreign terms a bit more expensive, up 6¢ to 1002US¢. In contrast to the east coast, the higher magnitude falls in physical wool prices in the west this week, as indicated by the WMI closing down 1.9%, or a fall of 28¢ to close at 1379¢/kg clean. This meant that in US$ terms the price of wool in WA softened marginally by 3¢ to 1059US¢.


In the Riemann forward market trading was noted for 21-micron fleece at 1455¢ for late September 2016 and 1415ٕ¢ for late October 2016. Interest continues to expand among growers in the use of minimum price contracts for wool and with the increased participation on the Riemann platform, leading to more prices available further out into the future on screen, suggesting that the use of minimum price contracts will become more commonplace. Indeed, Riemann are now generating a forward curve for the 21-micron fleece that give an indication of forward trading levels out until June 2017. Talk to your wool broker on the use of these contracts and how they can help you to hedge your downside price risk, but allow participation in the topside if wool prices rally.


This week saw 41,832 bales offered for sale and 38,658 went to the trade at a pass in rate of 7.6%. Next week sales are scheduled at Melbourne, Sydney and Fremantle on Wednesday and Thursday with 38,231 bales expected on offer. Week 12 has 43,680 bales anticipated and 38,733 the following week.



Wool Managers Report

The market retraced a bit this week on the back of a rally in the AUD / USD exchange rate, an approximate 150 point rally in seven days will always influence our spot market. This week was a designated superfine sale featuring a New Zealand offering on Tuesday followed by our Tasmanian offering. The good news is our superior spec continues to sell well and attract the full range of competition from all wool consuming countries. MPGs retraced as much as 20 cents clean in early trade this week, but inferior types were hit hardest, impacting the result. Crossbreds and cardings were least affected and 18 micron and finer were essentially unchanged.

Moving away from the physical market for a moment. We have mentioned several times in this column the growing demand for provenance and sustainability from the worlds new generation of consumers. I am extremely excited to report that Roberts are in the midst of a trade mission in Europe, with Alistair Calvert travelling with one of our brand partners. The feedback has been extremely positive with several commenting on the fact that Roberts are industry leading in their approach. I genuinely feel we are entering a new age for wool, an age where the fiber will be acknowledged for it’s superior qualities and our best growers rewarded for their environmentally conscious approach to growing it. I look forward to reporting further in next week’s column.

Finally, I’ve had the privilege of visiting Flinders Island wool growers this week. Yes there is a lot fewer now than 20 years ago, but the few that remain get it. They have continued to do what they love even though they’ve diversified part of their operations into beef in recent years. They have the ability to increase production if wool continues to gain momentum, and to be honest I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to work with them. When you talk about niche product, provenance and sustainability nowhere epitomizes this better than our Bass Strait Islands.

40,000 bales are rostered to sell in all three centers next week on Wednesday and Thursday. With any luck the currency will settle down and the market can consolidate.

Please contact me with any Tasmanian Merino enquiry, the more support we can get behind this initiative the better chance of improving results for Tasmanian wool growers as a whole.

Rob Calvert

Operations Manager – Rural Agency

Weekly Wool Report


Last weekend the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC – the American equivalent of the RBA) met to discuss US interest rate policy and indicated that rates there could increase this year, with some pundits suggesting it could come as early as this month.

The main impact of the rate hike speculation was to see the A$ drop a cent over the weekend, which flowed through to supportive prices in the wool market during this week. Indeed, Wednesdays sales saw finer categories leading the charge higher with 10-16¢ increases in Sydney for 17 to 19.5 mpg fibres, while Melbourne’s main price increases centred on the 18.5-20 mpg categories with a lift of 10-13¢ recorded. After a week recess price in Fremantle played catch up to the east coast – with 18-25¢ increases across the 18 to 22-micron classes.


Thursday’s sales saw the cross bred fleece rally in Sydney between 14-21¢ while Melbourne saw continued strength in the finer fibres with 9-13¢ across the 17 to 18.5 mpg classes. Fremantle was more subdued with smaller gains in the 18 and 18.5-micron the best performers up 3¢ and 4¢, respectively.

Over the week we saw 40,553 bales offered for sale with 39,701 bales listed as sold, a pass in rate of 3.6%. An added benefit to wool markets due to the lower A$ was that despite higher prices in local terms wool exports remained competitive when converted into US dollar terms .

Friday night will see the release of the US employment data and the currency market is eagerly awaiting the result of this to determine just how quickly a rate rise is on the cards for the USA. A stronger than expected figure should see the A$ come under renewed pressure into next week and this would continue to provide support to wool prices. Next week we see 42,986 bales offered during sales scheduled in Sydney and Freemantle on Wednesday and Thursday, while Melbourne is selling Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.




For further information on the wool market, please head to Mecardo for more in depth analysis.

Weekly Wool Update

The wool market resumed its normal roster this week selling in all three centres on Wednesday and Thursday. The market on Wednesday continued on from the positive close to last week with most types quoted slightly dearer. Merino fleece in the 18-21 micron range were most affected, adding 15 cents clean, while other types were 5 cents dearer.

The recent trend which has seen the higher quality types, whether it be merino fleece, skirtings or crossbreds has continued, with tangible premiums being paid for the better testing lots.

This trend is set to continue as Europe becomes more active in the market, at the same time as China pulling back slightly from the levels seen in previous years.

Therefore it is now beneficial to adjust wool classing practices to suit the current market; where you may normally class out a finer testing line looking for micron premiums, currently it is more beneficial to class on staple strength and length as a priority.

If you are able to produce a line that is 40n kt or better, as opposed to a finer line testing 35 nkt, you will be rewarded with the price received. This is especially relevant as we head into a spring with a flush of feed to come that could challenge staple strength?

The same thing could be said for classing and skirting crossbred wool; as the more traditional wool using countries such as Europe generally, Japan, Korea etc become more active in purchasing, the savings made in the shed could be counter productive. Of course this depends on your specific circumstances, but as a general observation, the well classed, skirted clips are well sought after.

Contact your local Roberts Wool Representative for more information.

Tasmanian Merino Trade Mission


Roberts is passionate about Tasmanian agriculture and promoting our Island’s highly sought after produce on the world stage.

We are proud to own Tasmanian Merino, a brand which provides authenticity for the entire supply chain, from the wool producer to the consumer.

Our Wool Manager, Alistair Calvert, is off to Europe next week to visit key retailers and supply chain participants to introduce them to our Tasmanian Merino marketing campaign. These appointments include high end suiting manufacturers who already hold Tasmanian wool in high regard; spinning companies – one of whom makes up an important part of the Ortovox supply chain & are renowned for their innovation & product development; customers focused on high end woven fabrics as well as knitwear & also those who focus on lower grade wool types (both combing & carding).

In addition to these specific visits, Alistair will also be visiting Milano Unica, a leading trade fair in Milan. This event showcases products like prestigious menswear fabrics through to exclusive women’s knitwear collections. Over 425 manufacturers, dealers, importers and retailers will exhibit at the show. Alistair will be there to support a fully vertically integrated company that uses over 50,000 bales of greasy wool per year.

We look forward to sharing some updates of his trip over the next few weeks – stay tuned!

In the meantime, please find a link to one of our Tasmanian Merino marketing videos below.


As always, if you would like some more information on this exciting new venture, or anything else wool related, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Head to to check out our website, or contact your local Roberts Wool Rep to find out how you can get involved.

Using fertiliser to increase hay & silage yields



Nitrogen fertiliser can be used to boost pasture growth. For nitrogen applications to be successful, the grass must be in a growing state. If the grass is not growing, the plants will not take up the nutrient. The response that can be obtained from applying nitrogen depends on numerous factors such as:


  • soil fertility      
  • soil temperature      
  • type of plants      
  • soil moisture      
  • sunlight


Each of these factors influences the growth rate of plants and hence the uptake of nitrogen.

Timing – when should it be put on prior to cutting silage / hay?

Fertiliser applications to increase yield need to be applied at least 4 weeks prior to cutting silage/ hay. Ideally after the paddock has been grazed, fertiliser is applied and then the paddock is shut up for hay/silage. It is essential this fertiliser application is timed with a rainfall event; 10 mm of rain is normally sufficient. Fertiliser timing for hay paddocks is  generally around the same time, although the shut up period will be greater than 4 weeks. If postponed too long the likelihood of sufficient rain is reduced.

What blend should I use?

If you have done autumn P & K topdressing or soil test results show adequate nutrient levels, Pasture Booster (24-4-13-5) may be sufficient. If nutrient levels are less than satisfactory or autumn topdressing was not done, a blend higher in P & K such as Pasture Promoter (16-8-13-7) may be required. If nutrient levels are high, the use of urea may be appropriate. If paddocks treated with nitrogen or a nitrogen blend are grazed prior to cutting silage or hay the yield will be significantly reduced. Do not re-admit stock to any areas treated with nitrogen for a minimum of 21 days.

Product Analysis Rate (kg/ha) Comment


16-8-13-7 200 – 300 Sources of N to boost production P, K & S to maintain soil nutrient levels.
Pasture Booster 24-4-13-5 150 – 200 Source of N, P & K to boost pasture or hay where normal Autumn topdressing has already been applied.
Urea 46-0-0-0 80 – 100 Nitrogen only.


Note: These are examples only – consult your local Roberts representative to tailor a fertiliser program to suit your specific needs.



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