GRAINCORP has announced the location of several sites that will receive capacity upgrades through the construction of new bunker storage.
NSW's Central West, on the cusp of another bumper harvest, is a key focus in GrainCorp's upgrades, with 260,000 tonnes of storage going in at Coonamble and a further 220,000t at Gilgandra, both expected to be completed prior to this year's harvest.
In Victoria the capacity of the site at Murchison East, west of Shepparton, will be extended by 80,000t while there will also be an upgrade at Thallon, southern Queensland, while the site at nearby Noondoo will be brought out of mothballs to meet projected demand.
The capital expenditure program is part of GrainCorp's desire to install another million tonnes of storage across its network to help it manage what is expected to be a monster crop.
GrainCorp operations manager Nigel Lotz said there would be further announcements made over the coming months leading into harvest.
"We've been working in closely with local councils to get the relevant permits and things have been going along well, there's a few more we just need to get signed off before we start work," Mr Lotz said.
"It is great to work with local councils like Coonamble and Gilgandra and get these projects up and running, which are going to be good for local farmers, our business and the local community in general," he said.
Mr Lotz said GrainCorp would be working with local contractors for the construction of the storage.
"We've used a lot of these guys before and we know they can price competitively and execute well and it is great to create business in these towns."
Mr Lotz said the Coonamble and Gilgandra storages would be built as surge capacity.
"They won't be expensive all weather permanent bunkers, instead this is going to be where you look to outload the grain out of first after harvest, they will be fit for purpose," he said.
This reflects the fickle nature of cropping in the region where bumper seasons are interspersed with years where very little is delivered to the system.
Mr Lotz said a key reason for the investment at the two sites, two of the largest in GrainCorp's network, was their good transport links.
"They are both rail sites and both have good quick-loading train facilities which is important as we attempt to maintain on top of the crop this year, being able to outload and create more space will be important."
In Victoria, he said the bunker at Murchison East would be permanent storage.
"It is a part of the world that is growing more grain and this site is situated in a strategic spot so we are happy to make the investment there," he said.
Size-wise, Mr Lotz said GrainCorp was anticipating a big harvest.
"Central Queensland looks like missing out, there are parts of the Victorian Mallee that are struggling, as they did last year, but for the most part other areas are looking really strong," he said.
In particular he said GrainCorp was keeping an eye on the potential for production upgrades in northern NSW.
"Northern NSW is an area we are looking to put in more storage which we will announce when we get the formal approvals," Mr Lotz said.
He said the upgrades to be announced were not as big as the Coonamble and Gilgandra projects but would still represent a significant amount of capacity overall.
Mr Lotz said the company was also in the process of looking at which of its secondary sites it would open this year.
"These flex sites will be opened on a needs basis, given the size of the crop in some areas it is likely we will see some sites that don't open each year being used."
He said GrainCorp was working hard to attract the workforce it needed to store this year's crop.
"We've had 3000 applications to date which is great, but we've still got more jobs available in a range of roles for anyone who is looking."
In terms of segregations, he said there had been reports of healthy nitrogen applications to take advantage of big premiums for high protein wheat lines.
"The protein story is something we're aware of, although obviously we have to make sure we are also prepared for the need for downgraded segregations should we get harvest rain."
He said there would also be a lot of canola storage this year to reflect the big plant.