Bale of wool may fetch $17,300
Bidding for a bale of ultra-fine merino wool from naturally raised hoggets could reach levels unseen for some time at the Christchurch wool auction on Thursday.
The fineness of the wool, laser-scanned at 12.9 microns, and its production without sheep covers or raised under a roof, has lifted the appeal of the bale to buyers from Japan, South Korea and Europe, particularly top fashion houses in Italy.
Wool agents expect bidding could reach about $100 a kilogram for the 173kg bale if the auction becomes heated.
The bale is being offered by Ithiel Ltd merino farmers John and Stacey Waldron from their top fine-wool hoggets bred from a ewe flock artificially inseminated with bloodlines from Otago's Forest Range Station.
PGG Wrightson Wool South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said the ultra-fine wool had generated strong interest from potential buyers internationally.
He said the exclusiveness of a bale produced from hoggets grown in "free range" conditions at Ithiel had been a drawcard and the wool would probably be made into ultra-fine handmade suits.
"We have valued the wool at $100/kg, but it's in the lap of the gods and it could be from $30/kg to $230/kg," Burridge said.
"It really is an unknown, but I suspect, all things being equal, that it will go for about $100/kg because we have seen similar wool to that sold in Australia for similar money. It takes two to tango at an auction, so we need at least two people to bid each other up."
Wool agents believed it had been at least three to four years for a merino bale this fine to go to auction in Christchurch.
Burridge said most ultra-fine wool was sold privately to buyers and it was unusual for it to go on the public stage.
The well-nourished wool had soft handling and showed good style, he said.
"As far as wool sold under the hammer, this is certainly the finest for a number of years and probably the finest under naturally grown conditions which are not housed or covered," he said.
The fine wool was selected from the best of Ithiel's total hogget clip at the Alexandra property, with quality maintained despite the hoggets going through drought and a challenging season.
The rest of the Ithiel hogget flock has produced 15 bales of ultra-fine wool averaging 13.5 microns, which will also be sold, as will 24 bales of ewe fleece at about 14.5 microns.
Ithiel's bale, shorn by fine-wool specialist Marty Cornish, is expected to go to auction at 9.15am.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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