Market specialist shares wool data
With the closure of Yocom-McColl Testing Lab, Inc in Denver Colo. in 2020, there are now only two commercial wool testing labs in the U.S. – Wasatch Wool Laboratories in Midvale, Utah, and Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory, housed at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research facility in San Angelo, Texas; and demand for wool testing continues to grow. According to Center of the Nation Wool, Inc. CEO Larry Prager, the Texas lab will be utilized more by U.S. wool growers than the lab in Utah.
“The Texas lab was started before the Utah lab and the Utah company is more of a private company,” he says.
The Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory began accepting commercial wool samples for testing in May. Previously, the majority of U.S. wool growers had to rely on New Zealand for testing.
Prager says, although the lab opening in Texas is exciting for wool growers, many are still required to send samples to New Zealand.
“We are still sending the majority of tests we are running, even after the Texas lab opened up, to New Zealand,” says Prager.
He says the Texas lab was overrun by the amount of wool needing to be tested. With time, the lab should provide more testing for U.S. growers.
“Capacity for them has been a limiting factor – as is expected for a startup operation,” Prager says.
The wool test report used in marketing has three components: average fiber diameter, percentage of clean wool and vegetable matter.
Commercial wool tests do not include subjective components such as uniformity, preparation and color, which often determine significant value, says Prager. He says wool testing is necessary for producers to successfully market wool.
“In my chair, for me to try and sell wool without a core test, it is not going to work,” says Prager. “From a more practical point of view, the wool test determines those things we can measure that really form the basis of what we have to sell.”
He says most buyers have specific requirements for acceptable micron ranges, depending on the product they make.
“We have to have this marketing information,” says Prager. “The grower needs wool testing information in order to offer the wool with integrity.”
Wool industry outlook
Prager says the wool industry has been “sluggish” as far as marketing throughout 2022. High freight rates are negatively affecting the sheep market.
“We have seen sluggish demand and it has been a bit more of a grind throughout 2022 than would be ideal,” he says.
Prager says the big question is, “Is this behind us yet?”
“We all wish for it to be but I think finally, over the last month or so, we have started to see some relief as far as freight rates are concerned,” he says. “The relative strength of the U.S. dollar has remained pretty stable throughout 2022, which is helpful.”
He says prices are not bringing confidence to the wool industry and they are not acceptable for many growers.
“We certainly need better prices to return our growers to fair price,” says Prager.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.