WESTERN Australian bulk handler CBH has announced it has recorded the second highest tonnage entering its system ever, providing an invaluable source of grain as the east coast suffers through its big dry.
Official CBH data shows it took 16.4 million tonnes of grain this season, just below the 16.62m tonnes from 2016-17.
The difference in seasons between WA and the east coast states is starkly borne out in the receival data.
CBH reported that the Mingenew site, in the Geraldton zone, received a whopping 575,000 tonnes, a new record.
In comparison, GrainCorp, the major bulk handler in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, said that Queensland overall had seen receivals less than a fifth of that with 107,000 tonnes.
Mingenew, which services the farming area around the small town of just 282 people according to Census data, just fell short of beating total grain receivals in NSW, which in some years is Australia’s largest grain producing state, but this year limped to just 607,000 tonnes.
In the west, however, there were a number of happier stories.
Leading the charge were the Geraldton and Kwinana port zones, in the north of the state’s cropping region.
Encompassing some of the more marginal cropping country in the state, the Geraldton zone was this year’s big winner, with receivals in the port zone more than doubling year on year.
In 2017-18 the region received 1.56m tonnes, this year the figure was a whopping 3.3m tonnes.
Just to the south the Kwinana zone, encompassing much of the central wheatbelt, smashed its previous record, taking 8m tonnes, bettering the previous mark of 7.5m tonnes in 2013-14.
CBH general manager of operations David Capper said the season exceeded expectations.
“While we were anticipating a larger than average harvest, the final result was more than we expected and a great outcome for growers and CBH,” he said.
Importantly, the good year has come exactly when it was needed on a national level, given the regional shortfall in grain on the east coast.
Last month CBH boss Jimmy Wilson forecast that over 2m tonnes would move from WA to the east coast and some east coast analysts believe that figure could rise further, especially if there is a late autumn break.
Mr Capper said CBH was now focused on moving grain from upcountry sites to port to meet the requirements of a demanding shipping program for the start of the year.
In terms of individual sites, along with Mingenew, the Merredin site, in the Kwinana zone, received 444,300 tonnes and Cranbrook, which feeds into the port of Albany, took 340,500 tonnes.