GRAIN receival sites through Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales had a hectic day on Wednesday, working deep into the night as farmers worked feverishly to get off as much crop as possible before forecast heavy rain.
GrainCorp spokesman Luke O’Donnell said local site managers had been in charge of setting opening hours, according to farmer demand, but said there were sites operational until midnight before opening early Thursday morning.
By noon on Thursday he said the focus had shifted towards securing the sites from the impending weather.
“Safety is the major priority for everyone so we’ve tried to reach that balance between getting as many tonnes in while the weather is still good and then ensuring the sites are well and truly secured before the weather hits.”
He said data as to the tonnages taken on Wednesday had not been fully processed but added it would be one of the biggest receival days for the harvest.
After the forecast rain he said the company would reassess the situation in terms of segregations and the potential for downgraded grain due to weather damage.
Up to 250mm is forecast for parts of north-east Victoria and southern NSW.
In South Australia, it was a record-breaking day at Viterra sites.
“We extended opening hours at sites, some until 11pm-midnight to give growers the opportunity to get their crops delivered before the forecast rain event,” a Viterra spokesperson said.
“Tuesday and Wednesday were our largest receival days for the harvest so far, with 240,000 and 256,000 tonnes delivered.”
She said a number of sites, including Ardrossan, Strathalbyn and Bowmans all broke record daily receivals on Wednesday.
Ross Johns, Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) grains group president, said farmers had worked much of the night.
Canola allows farmers to harvest virtually all night without concerns about moisture, but generally cereals require the headers to stop.
However, Mr Johns said relatively warm conditions and low moisture levels allowed farmers to keep going.
“The wheat and barley were still thrashing well and that allowed people to keep going.”
He said growers had been generally pleased with the access to receival sites in the lead-up to the rain, in spite of some slow turnaround times due to the volume of traffic, with some sites requiring around four hours before unloading.
“The site opening hours have been pretty good, which has helped us get as much off as possible prior to the rain.”