A competition was started in 2000, designed to push farmers to produce an even finer fibre. In its 14th year, the competition was won by Australian farm Pyrenees Park in Victoria. Farmers Pamela and Robert Sandlant produced an 11-micron bale.
The Italian textile giant, Loro Piana, honours the breeders that produce the finest bale of wool, and then takes the fibre to produce just 40 bespoke men's suits.
This equalled the effort by New Zealand farmers Yvonne and Barrie Payne, from Timaru, however the Australian fibre was judged to be slightly stronger.
Mrs Sandlant said that it's been a lot of hard work, years of genetic research and while it's been hard it's also been a lot of fun and they are delighted to win.
Dr Pier-Luigi Loro Piana started searching for fine wool bales in 1997. The first one from New Zealand weighed 100 kilos and measured a little over 13 microns. Last year's winner recorded a fibre of 10.6 microns.
The ongoing collaboration and the breeders' constant commitment, the quality standards have grown significantly, in only 17 years the fibre's finesse improved by 30 percent, said Dr Loro Piana.
The jury, which is formed by the president of the Superfine Wool Growers' Association and the director of the New Zealand Stud Merino Breeders Society, certifies each bale of wool and records the micron fibre count.
This challenge is a way to keep celebrating the excellence and uniqueness of the world's best raw materials. These ultra-fine wools which include cashmere and vicuna are in fact the core of every product that is limited by an exclusive definition; they are as rare and precious as gemstones.
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