The commitment to producing traditional superfine wool on their property in the Yass Valley, despite many seasons of disappointing returns, is now paying off for Robyn and John Ive.
During the recent dinner of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers’ Association held in Goulburn, the Association’s annual national fleece competition awards were announced: and a fleece grown by a three-year-old wether on the couple’s property “Talaheni”, received the award for the Goulburn-Yass region with the solid score of 93 points.
Sired by a Rock-Bank ram, the fleece had the following characteristics: 3.3 kg skirted weight, 73.8 percent yield, 15.9 micron, 20.1 percent CoV, 99.2 percent Comfort Factor, 15.4 micron Spinning fineness, 125 deg/mm Curvature.
The following Thursday on May 24, the “Talaheni” wool clip was sold in Sydney through AWN and received the top three prices in the catalogue; in fact, the top three prices across all wool selling brokers for the day.
“Not only that, the weekly market report put out by Landmark identified “Talaheni” as having received the second and third highest prices across all wool selling centres for the week- a week when the EMI went up 40 cents to 1983 c/kg clean,” Mr Ive said.
“As has been the case for some years, the top line was bought by G Schneider Australia for 3702 c/kg clean, with bidding undertaken by Tim Marwedel. The next best line made 3664 c/kg clean. The top line was 15.2 micron, 73.2 percent yield, 86 mm staple length and 35 N/kTex, the second line was 14.2 micron, 71.5 percent yield, 76 mm staple length and 27 N/kTex staple strength.”
Obviously very pleased about his returns, Mr Ive was however cautious about pumping up their relative values and said, “while these prices were good, they fall well short of prices regularly received a decade or more ago before the slide in superfine prices.”
“Our skirting lines however, sold very well and consolidated the overall result; for instance, pieces made 2719 c/kg clean resulting in an overall pleasing result of 3230 c/kg clean average across the clip.” he said.
“In fact, it is extra pleasing given the tough seasonal conditions we have endured over the past two years.”
Mr Ive, who had a long career with CSIRO before becoming a full-time wool grower, pointed out that claims that current prices are at record levels are misguided.
“In nominal terms this is true but in real terms, as reported in other press reports, current prices are far short of previous peaks,” he said.
“If one is going to claim record wool prices, then one must also recognise costs are at record levels.
“Although the financial position is better than recent times, they still fall considerably short of previous periods of good returns.”
Mr Ive is hopeful the current rising trend, particularly for wool finer than 16.5 micron will continue given the reduced production of traditional superfine wool due to poor prices over a decade or more.
Although the quantity of sub -16.5 micron wool has increased over the past 25 years, Mr Ive said it has been predominantly due to an increase in supply of broader crimping styles, with traditional superfine declining sharply.
“This decline is continuing and needs at least current prices to be maintained if the situation is to be reversed,” he said.
“There are no doubt processors are starting to realise the serious decline in traditional superfine wool supply and the impact upon their future processing opportunities - hence the recent sharp increase in prices.
“In addition, several processors have bought extensive farming properties in traditional superfine wool growing areas.”