WORK is under way on a new 100,000-tonne grain storage site at Mt McLaren, north of Clermont, to help Central Queensland (CQ) growers store and distribute what is expected to be a bumper 2022 winter crop.
North Queensland Bulk Storage & Logistics (NQBSL) is behind the project, which will be open for the upcoming harvest.
The company is the brainchild of Chris Sizer and Helen Cogill who also run Sizer & Cogill: Bulk and General Carriers, a fully integrated paddock-to-port logistics operation.
In the past two years, the couple has also opened Sizer & Cogill Ag and Sizer & Cogill Logistics.
Originally based at Millmerran on the Darling Downs, Mr Sizer and Ms Cogill started working in North Queensland about seven years ago, first servicing the mining industry before expanding into agriculture.
Ms Cogill said with the CQ crop size growing, there was a demand for more storage facilities.
She said the new site is expected to double its capacity to 200,000t next year.
“We will store and distribute on growers’ requests.”
Currently, GrainCorp is the only bulk handler operating in CQ, and has seven locations scattered from Mt McLaren to Moura.
Other than the recently expanded Yamala hub near Emerald, most of GrainCorp’s sites have limited capacity, which some growers believe won’t be able to cope with future crop volumes.
She said contractors are hard at work to get the first two pads ready to start receiving grain in approximately four weeks.
“We have scrapers, graders working there now.
“When we open, we will have earthworks continuing, with further pads totaling five in the end.
“The weighbridge is on site and being concreted and installed (this) week.”
The company has recently put the call out for harvest casuals to staff the site from next month and is confident this recruitment, alongside its current employees, will make the Mt McLaren site a success.
NQ prospects bright
Ms Cogill said the Mt McLaren facility is just one of the company’s projects in Central and North Queensland.
She said for many years, they have seen the opportunity to work with growers in the region, and the potential for grain crops to expand.
This is evidenced by the NQBSL projects happening at the Townsville Port, including a large-scale storage and packing facility which is in the works.
Potential for larger truck configurations to access Townsville is further seen as enhancing its appeal.
“We envisage a lot of traders sending grain to Townsville for export, as it is a triple road train route from Mt McLaren to Townsville.
“We will be a part of the Grain Harvest Management Scheme to enable extra weight to be carried.
“At the end of the day, the traders and growers decide where their destination is, but they will know what is on offer via Townsville.”
High-yielding CQ crop coming
This grain-storage project comes as growers from across the CQ cropping regions are bullish about the size and quality of the upcoming winter harvest.
This region’s winter crop is mostly wheat, barley and chickpeas.
Nutrien Ag agronomist, Darren Young, based at Springsure, south of Emerald, said the crop is “looking a million bucks”.
He said he expected the earlier crops to start being harvested in around two weeks.
South-east of Springsure at Orion, Luke Bradley has wheat, chickpeas and irrigated barley and he expects to start harvesting in late October.
He said the season has been “fantastic” and he is expecting above-average yields across all crops.
“It is as close to a perfect run as you could ask for; we are not complaining at all,” Mr Bradley said.
“Barley is pushing into grain fill now, wheat is flowering, pushing into grain fill and things are looking good; we just have to hope for a nice friendly harvest period.”
Mr Bradley said weather across the growing window had been favourable for crop growth.
“I think the longer, cooler season has been a big factor, not necessarily the rainfall…although the rainfall has been fantastic as well.
“All our crops are going to be above average.
“Maybe our chickpeas were a little wet to start with and did take a while and sat there not doing too much…but it is powering along and flowering now.”
Near Biloela, grower Scott Muller said his winter crops haven’t looked this good since 2016.
Mr Muller has wheat and barley on his family’s property, Karinga.
“If you can’t grow wheat this year, you’d have to give up,” Mr Muller said.
“Everything is fantastic; we couldn’t have had a better season.”
He said it wouldn’t be surprised if CQ growers reported yields of 5-7 tonnes per hectare from this season’s crop.
“The potential is there for some excellent yields.”
He said growers were waiting to see what the weather delivered when harvest ramps up before making big calls on volume and average yield.
“The thing that’s got us all on the edge of our seat at the minute is the predictions of what spring is going to be like once we start harvesting in three weeks’ time.
“I just hope that everyone can put a header in the paddock and pull it off without getting drowned or bogged.”