Bulk handlers gear up for diminished harvest

Major bulk handlers GrainCorp, Viterra and CBH gear up for diminished grain harvest


Grain
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Harvest this season may be smaller than last year's record-breaker but the bulk handlers expect it to have its own logistical challenges.

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Bulk handlers are expecting southern regions will produce the majority of the nation's grain this harvest.

Bulk handlers are expecting southern regions will produce the majority of the nation's grain this harvest.

BULK handlers across the nation will rely on their southern networks to generate throughput this season as harvest begins to heat up.

For all three of the nation’s major three grain receivers, GrainCorp, Viterra and CBH, it is expected the majority of tonnes will come from the southern portion of their networks, meaning peak harvest will be later than usual.

Nigel Lotz, GrainCorp operations general manager, said the company was gearing up for a vastly different year to last season’s bin-burster.

“We’re expecting to have a drop in receivals year-on-year,” Mr Lotz said.

He said the downturn was caused by poor harvest in NSW and Queensland.

“We are relying on southern NSW and Victoria for the bulk of our receivals this year.”

He said GrainCorp would concentrate the majority of its mobile grain handling equipment in the southern zone this year due to the lower tonnages in the north.

Nigel Lotz, GrainCorp general manager of operations, says the company has invested heavily in bulk handling assets.

Nigel Lotz, GrainCorp general manager of operations, says the company has invested heavily in bulk handling assets.

“It will mean the gear is located in the southern zone as soon as they get started whereas normally it moves from north to south in line with the harvest peak.”

“Hopefully this will help boost the experience at our sites for southern farmers.”

In spite of the poor in the north meaning total tonnages are easily handled, the seasonal conditions are creating challenges in terms of creating off-standard segregations for commodities.

“We have had some rain recently which is causing quality issues which we are trying to manage as best as we can,” Mr Lotz said.

“In particular the chickpeas are providing challenging as there are a limited number of grades we can offer.”

In Western Australia, David Capper, CBH operations general manager, said there had been a pleasant surprise for the company, with a kind spring, especially in the group’s southern Albany and Esperance zone, spearheading an upward revision of production estimates.

“Early estimates had indicated that CBH Group would receive a well below average crop pegged at between 9.5 and 10 million tonnes, however the conditions through August and September have significantly improved the crop and while still below average the crop is likely to be in the 11 to 12 million tonne range,” Mr Capper said.

He said while the company expected at least a 27pc year on year downturn in receivals there was still a strong export program booked.

“Based on the current capacity booked by exporters we are still expecting a peak in demand from February to June,” he said.

In South Australia, a Viterra spokesperson said the business was prepared for a highly variable harvest.

Up until the end of last week, Viterra had received 74,000 tonnes of new crop grain.

Cargill expects a busy year ahead at its GrainFlow network of grain receival sites.

Cargill expects a busy year ahead at its GrainFlow network of grain receival sites.

Cargill has been busy repositioning grain from its southern sites in its GrainFlow bulk handling network, where it forecasts it will potentially have capacity constraints.

Peter McBride, Cargill spokesman, said the company had executed a strong domestic and export marketing program which minimised carry out through its system of sites.

He said the company would continue to utilize its dynamic binning program, following positive grower feedback.

Other businesses, including GrainCorp and CBH will also offer their version of dynamic binning, which they say is well received by growers.

Mr Lotz said GrainCorp’s Croptimiser product had delivered millions of dollars of value back to growers last year.

“Our feedback is that they like the product,” he said.

Investment in bulk handling assets has been another common theme among the major grain receival businesses.

Viterra said it had invested millions into equipment, such as drive over hopper and stacker sets at key sites, while it has also upgraded more than 50 conveyor belts.

Mr Lotz said GrainCorp had commissioned new drive over hoppers and cross stackers.

“The drive over hoppers have a capacity of 450 tonnes an hour which we are sure will improve speeds and shorten turnaround times,” he said.

  • The print version of this story mentioned a 60pc drop in GrainCorp receivals year on year. This information is incorrect. 
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