NHILL in Victoria at nearly 180,000 tonnes and Mt McLaren in Central Queensland on more than 155,000t topped the site intakes for GrainCorp’s up-country network in the winter-crop harvest which is now complete in Australia’s eastern states.
In its 2017 summary out today, GrainCorp described the 2017 harvest as challenging, with dryness, extreme heat and frost followed by untimely rain during harvest in some areas affecting grain.
“This did have an impact on quality, but GrainCorp was able to respond with alternative segregations and off-grades to minimise disruption,” the company said, adding that its ongoing investment to improve site efficiencies had delivered record turnaround times and allowed greater flexibility.
Queensland’s 2017 harvest intake at 557,250t was down 69 per cent on the bumper 2016 figure.
Behind Mt McLaren, Goondiwindi West was GrainCorp’s biggest Queensland receival point, taking in more than 85,000t.
This was in stark contrast to Thallon, in the state’s southwest, which received just over 5000t, compared with more than 285,000t last year.
New South Wales
For the first time since at least 2011, NSW growers delivered less into the GrainCorp network than their Victorian counterparts, reflecting the extremely dry conditions across the state’s western growing areas.
The state’s total intake at 2.08 million tonnes (Mt) was down 68pc from the 2016 figure.
Walgett was one of the areas hit hard by lack of planting and then in-crop rain, and its GrainCorp depot did not open for the 2017 harvest due to lack of demand, in contrast to 2017 when it received more than 285,000t.
GrainCorp said while many growers only harvested enough for seed for the coming year, overall quality in northern NSW was good, despite volumes being drastically down from 2016.
Wheat performed strongly, with high protein levels demanding a price premium.
Condobolin was the busiest site in NSW, receiving more than 90,000t.
Southern NSW suffered from a combination of weather events and frost which compounded quality and quantity issues.
A number of central and southwest slopes sites, including Cunningar, Junee, Milvale, Parkes, Red Bend and Temora, received more than 80,000t, but GrainCorp’s flagship site at Calleen, north of West Wyalong, received around 15,000t, down from 130,000t in 2016.
Victorian 2017 receivals at 2.94Mt were down 21pc on the 2016 figure.
Despite harvest being interrupted by intermittent rain, the state achieved a record by receiving more than 150,000t in a single 24-hour period.
This was the result of many sites staying open for 20 hours to enable growers to deliver grain before a forecast storm.
Behind Nhill, where a new record was set to reflect receivals being up 5pc on its 2016 figure, Victorian sites including Elmore, Murtoa, Quambatook, Warracknabeal and Yarrawonga received 100,000t from the 2017 harvest.
Significant frost events took their toll on yields, particularly through the Western District.
GrainCorp operates seven ports which offer a mix of container and bulk export capability along Australia’s east coast.
The company’s export program based on the 2017 harvest is considerably down on that of 2016, with domestic demand taking priority as local consumers secure supply.
GrainCorp said domestic grain was flowing north in response to supplies being under pressure across Queensland and northern NSW.
Geelong remains GrainCorp’s busiest port, with more than 600,000t being exported to help satisfy demand for Australian grain from key markets.
Queensland is Australia’s largest exporter of chickpeas. GrainCorp said it had worked with growers to ensure appropriate segregations were available as weather events impacted quality.
Advancements and technology
GrainCorp said its Croptimiser tool was responsible for upgrading around 250,000t of grain during harvest.
Subject to the amount and quality of grain delivered, and stack average, Croptimiser can enable growers to reclassify grain at the segregation above, and be paid more accordingly.
GrainCorp’s marketplace app, CropConnect, was accessed more than 330,000 times by growers, and was used to sell more than 720,000t of grain from the 2017 harvest.
The app provides site opening times and available segregations and during harvest, the number of active users online peaked at 5911 on 11 December 2017, with more than 250,000 push notifications sent.
GrainCorp said it expected this usage to increase as growers explored the grower-offer and counter-bid functions available through CropConnect.
Its Supply Chain Stock Team handled more than 12,000 calls during the harvest period.
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