KERANG farmer Geoff Kendell (pictured) is slowly coming to terms with a substantial fall in wool prices as a result of the downturn in the global economy.
He sold two thirds of his annual clip last week (August 15) at the wool stores in Melbourne.
"Our annual wool income has dropped by a third compared to last year," he said.
"I'm not overly happy with what is happening, but you've got to make a living."
He has retained his top fleece lines in the hope the market will bounce back by early next year.
"As a farmer you are a price-taker, not a price-maker - and you've got to deal with these sorts of things," he said.
The fourth generation producer, and wool classer by trade, runs 1200 Merino ewes across 1000 hectares in northern Victoria with his wife Fiona.
The couple only switched to wool production in 2010, after running a crossbred operation for several decades.
"I always grew prime lambs," he said. "But we got through the drought and found we had no hay, no grain…no pasture.
"We had to sell our crossbred flock."
But eight weeks later the season changed and the couple decided to change direction, buying in two lines of Collinsville-blood Merino ewes.
They now join those sheep to a Border Leicester ram to produce a first-cross mother.
The ewe lambs are marketed at private sales and recently fetched up to $130 a head, while last week's wool clip topped at 760 cents a kilogram greasy on a line that yielded 70 per cent.
The wool measured 19.2-20.6 micron and had a tensile strength of 45 newtons per kilotex.
He said the latest result was a 200c/kg reduction compared to 2011.
However, the quality of the wool should hold the fleece in good stead when the Kendells make the decision to sell the final portion of the clip.
"We'll take a wait and see approach," he said.
The flock is run on irrigated pasture, while the rest of the operation is diverse, encompassing dryland wheat, barley, oats, canola and chickpeas.
Our main aim on the wool side of things is getting a consistent fibre diameter and that comes down to a consistency in feed inputs," he said.
"We make sure we've got plenty of good quality hay and a reasonable amount of grain to encourage wool growth.
"You don't want those breaks in the wool."
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