STAR PERFORMER: Tenterfield wool grower and merino breeder John Holley from Yoorooga with his grand champion ewe and fellow southern producers Robyn Butler and Neil Dight.
STAR PERFORMER: Tenterfield wool grower and merino breeder John Holley from Yoorooga with his grand champion ewe and fellow southern producers Robyn Butler and Neil Dight. Toni Somes

Wool grower counts his blessings

HOARDER is a term you could use to tease Tenterfield wool grower John Holley.

After all, he does have his last two wool clips sitting in a shed at his property, Yoorooga, west of the township.

But the personable fine wool grower and Merino breeder prefers to describe himself as "fortunate" or "optimistic".

"I am fortunate in the sense I was able to hold onto my wool clips because we also have an off-farm income," Mr Holley said.

"And I am optimistic in that I hope the market for the fine and superfine clips will continue to improve and I will be in a position to take advantage of the rises."

The southern landholder has also been fortunate in terms of the season.

"We've been under every storm that missed everyone else so we were having an excellent season even before this last rain," Mr Holley said.

"So I do appreciate that this has already been a very good year for us."

His luck continued at Stanthorpe Show where he won the highly regarded breeders' group broad ribbon, as well as grand champion ewe title and junior ram and junior ewe classes.

It's not the first time he's held centre stage in the stud classes on the Granite Belt but he's never been one to spruik his achievements.

"You could just say I've had a few wins before," he said.

Truth is he has enjoyed success across the region and into the New England with a merino breeding operation that can be traced back to his family's arrival in Tenterfield in the 1830s.

"My grandfather had sheep, apples and cherries and I guess I've let the other two go in favour of wool," Mr Holley explained.

He's become a specialist fine wool growing producing 15-16 micron wool and selling through southern markets and into the selective international clothing sectors.

Last year he sold wool - a clip he'd held over from previous seasons - for a top of 2650c/kg.

"We have seen an improvement in fine wool prices over the past week and I am hoping that an international shortage of super fine wool will result in more rises in the near future," Mr Holley said.

He has grave concerns for fine wool sales as news filters through the industry of the closure of the Newcastle selling centre, which regularly hosted specialised fine wool auctions.

"A large percentage of New England wool producers sold through Newcastle and they are now concerned that the loss of that selling centre also means the loss of specific fine wool sales.

"It remains to be seen how selling all wool types through Sydney will impact on the market but I for one would be hesitant to send all my fine wool through in one lot."

On a more certain note, Mr Holley said some of Australia's finest merinos would be in Tenterfield this weekend for the annual show.

"I am involved as a steward and we have one, if not the biggest, stud show on the New England circuit with between 80 and 100 stud sheep already entered."



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