Sheep producers were gifted a new year treat when the wool market re-opened considerably stronger this week and rose by up to 120 cents a kilogram for some fleece lines.
This pushed the Eastern Market Indicator to 1637c/kg (clean) on Tuesday, up 79 cents on 2019's closing price.
Auctions recommenced in Sydney on Tuesday where 5987 bales sold to a 99.7 per cent clearance rate. An offering of 18.5-micron and finer wools rose by 100-120c/kg, while broader microns were generally 100c/kg dearer.
The 18-micron wool rose by 100c/kg to 2007c/kg, 19-micron saw a 100c/kg rise to sit at 1918c/kg, and 20-micron wool rose by 96c/kg to 1888c/kg. Crossbreds were 10-20c/kg dearer.
New England Wool managing director Andrew Blanch said the price rise appeared in response to fears of a supply shortage.
With bushfires and drought making global news, he believed overseas buyers had become cautious about the impact on wool production.
"I think people realise there is wool to buy now ... (and into the next season) is unknown, with sheep (numbers) probably not going to be there, and the quality," he said.
While the market had opened high, Mr Blanch thought the price rise may only last a few weeks.
Similarly, Taminda Wool Trading's Tony Hallam said with so much wool held over from 2019, he had expected large quantities to be offered this week, which he thought might shore-up some buyers' supplies immediately.
"They would have used the surplus up because there is not a lot of wool in these later years that anyone is buying, processing and putting in the corner," he said.
"It is bought on an order, on a price, put through and at the other end hopefully they can get it off the shelf as quick as they can."
A drought-enforced decision by Merino breeder Tony Inder of Walgett and Wellington to shear ewes at 8.5 months instead of the normal 12, paid dividends at the Sydney wool sales.
While he had a reduced offering of 72 bales, and his yield down to 55pc, the average price per bale still reached $1800.
The ewes running on Malabar, Walgett, were shorn early and then trucked to Nyrang, Wellington, where they have been containment-fed with the Inder's locally bred mobs.
"The fleeces cut 5.5kg, but much of the yield was just dirt," he said.
Meanwhile, Chris Chalker, East View, Greenthorpe, watched on as Ben Gorham's ATA Shearing team took the wool from his 400 five- to six-month-old Merino lambs on Tuesday afternoon.
The lambs cut 2.5-3kg of 18- to 18.5-micron wool.
Mr Chalker (also on our cover with son Charlie, 3, and shearer Ryan Cummins) said this time of year always seemed to put a bit of pressure on the market.
His grown flock of Lach River-blood Merinos, which he runs with wife Mikhala, was shorn late October/early November and cut about 7kg of 19.5- to 20-micron wool.
That wool was stored at Beecher Wool Services, Cowra.
He sold some in December, but was holding off on further sales, anticipating a price rise in February.
Mr Chalker, too, observed a lot of dust in the wool and he hoped the forecast rain might help wash some of it away in the sheep to be shorn later in the year.
Brett Cooper of TWG Bathurst said while most heavy particulate would wash out, the amount of dust-laden wool had certainly reduced growers' yields.
"I'd say some are back 10pc, some maybe more," he said.