Continued good seasons across main wool growing regions have impacted the Australian wool clip with an increase of over length fleeces hitting the market.
And discounts are reported to 200 cents and above in the finer micron categories.
Ideal Merino fleece length varies between microns, but for 17 to 19-micron wools, a staple length of 80 to 90 millimetres is ideal, and the sounder the better.
According to independent commodity analyst Andrew Woods, the proportion of 110-120mm long combing wool has doubled and even tripled for the bigger micron categories.
"The proportion of 18-micron wool which is 110-120mm long has tripled in the past two seasons," Mr Woods said.
"There has been an increase in 110-120mm long 17-micron, but nowhere near as dramatic.
"And for 19 to 21-micron Merino combing wool, the proportion of over length wool has basically doubled in the past two seasons."
Discounts for over length sub-19 micron fleece are sizeable, with the discount increasing as fibre diameter becomes finer.
"The discounts have ranged from negligible levels to 200c, with the discount in February back up to over 200c," Mr Woods said.
"Over length discounts are more serious for fine wool where the average staple length has been historically shorter and the preferred staple length of European processors is tailored to shorter length wool."
Nutrien Ag Solutions wool broker David Hart said he is not seeing huge discounts for wool which is up to 110 or 112mm.
"Those lengths are still less than ideal, but buyers tell me they are able to place those wools," Mr Hart said.
"The danger with those really long wools is a high percentage of them are tender and they are breaking in the middle."
He said it all comes down to processing efficiency.
"There are lines of wool entering the market which processors will struggle with when processing," Mr Hart said.
"Processors, top-makers, and spinners - they all like to operate their machinery at fairly high speed to increase efficiency.
"Over length wool can impact on that efficiency of processing and make it more expensive, more fibre breakages, and slower operating speeds.
"If their coefficient of variation of hauteur (CVH) are very high that's not good for processing - they are definitely being discounted, but not smashed."
But those lengths, he said, arise out of factors that are usually out of growers control.
"Not being able to get shearers when necessary, but also the great season means they have punched out a lot of wool," Mr Hart said.
"Longer staple length is a factor of productivity, and it's hard to knock that. Extra length is extra weight and we shouldn't forget that."
Longer staple length is a factor of productivity, and it's hard to knock that. Extra length is extra weight and we shouldn't forget that- David Hart, Nutrien Ag Solutions wool broker
Southern tablelands woolgrower Brad Cartwright said the aim at his operation is to grow as much wool as he can.
And he said for his operation the discount is nowhere near the cost of a bi-annual shearing.
"As woolgrowers we should be aiming at growing as much as you can in 12-months - that is how we make a living," Mr Cartwright said.
He said a couple of years ago he sold wool that was over length and received a 12c discount.
"They cut eight kilos, so I lost 96c. But it would have cost me $9 per head to shear them, so where is the economics in that if I shore them twice a year?"
Mr Hart said producers vary in their operations, and shearing times depend on the sheep as well as management programs.
"Some people shear at six months, some people are shearing at eight months and some are sticking to the 12 month cycle," Mr Hart said.
"It depends on the sheep themselves - their degree of productivity and management programs.
"There's a whole lot of things that come into play to make those sort of decisions."
He said six-month shearing can bring with it its own problems.
"The six months where they don't have a lamb is pretty good, but the six months where they do have a lamb, they tend to be shorter going from 55mm to 45mm or 60mm to 50mm," Mr Hart said.
"The people that I know that do it, they put a great store in the increased fertility that seems to come with the bi-annual shearing.
"I have clients who swear by it because of that, but it all depends on your own circumstances."
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