Ports gear up as grain hits the ships

06 Jan, 2016 01:00 AM
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Dennis (left) and Peter Gittos of Varley wrapped up harvest prior to Christmas with below average results caused by a combination of frost, hail and a dry finish.
The next three weeks are going to be very busy from a shipping perspective
Dennis (left) and Peter Gittos of Varley wrapped up harvest prior to Christmas with below average results caused by a combination of frost, hail and a dry finish.

GRAIN shipments are ramping up as deliveries to most zones draw to a close.

In Geraldton, truck and rail is being used to bring grain to the port where 40,000 tonnes has already been shipped this year.

Zone manager Duncan Gray expects 285,000t to be shipped this month before operations hit the busy February and March periods.

"The next three weeks are going to be very busy from a shipping perspective and as we work to match up the rail for the accumulations of those vessels and road transport," he said.

"There will also be a lot of carting in and around the terminal as we prepare."

Lupins have already left for the Netherlands and genetically modified canola is being organised for a shipment to Germany.

Later this month wheat will be sent to Yemen, Japan and Thailand.

"The shipping stem has February and March as our biggest months if everything goes to plan," he said.

"I'm hoping it's closer to 400,000t in February and mid-300,000t for March."

Mr Gray said about 1.8 million tonnes of grain would be shipped from his zone in the coming months.

Deliveries from farms also continue for the Geraldton zone, with estimates about 3000-5000t remains on farm.

Harvest at Carnamah was expected to wrap up on Monday and with the subsequent closure of the local bin, Mr Gray said daily receivals across the region would drop from 1000t per day to 500t within a few days.

As of Monday the WA?harvest was sitting at just under 13.5 million tonnes.

Geraldton had received 2,350,863t, 5,847,886t has been delivered across Kwinana and 2,556,112t in Esperance.

In the Albany zone, where the majority of growers have finished harvest, grain deliveries reached 2,620,285t on Monday.

Zone manager Greg Thornton said he expected another 40,000t to be delivered particularly as growers around Pingrup and Jacup were in the final stages of harvest.

"Slowly, slowly we're still seeing grain coming and we expect more will come in over the next month," he said.

"Small amounts of rain have slowed up the last bit of harvest, but a vast majority have finished.

"Now it's just deliveries from on-farm storage which will happen as people get to it."

A majority of sites across the zone are closed, with only Cranbrook, Pingrup, Borden and Mindarabin still open on Monday.

Mr Thornton said he expected only the port terminal will be open from next week for the final deliveries.

Shipping will be the focus at the port, with Mr Thornton expecting the next three months to be the peak of grain movements from country sites towards the terminal.

Following issues with shipping timing due to ships failing inspection and a bottle-necked system in late 2014, Mr Thornton said there was a focus on ensuring similar issues were avoided this season.

"We were very tight in the lead up to Christmas but we've managed to ship a bit since Christmas and that has freed up the port," he said.

"We've got reasonable shipping in January so we're starting to accumulate grain from country sites to meet shipping programs.

"We're starting to move grain on road and rail from country receival points."

Mr Thornton said the completion of a second Albany receival point on Down Road later this year, which was expected for the 2015 harvest but was delayed, should curb future bottlenecks.

In the Kwinana zone, manager Gavin Bignell said 5000-10,000t was coming in per day which would continue for the next few weeks.

Pressure on the port and closer to port country sites eased in 2015 compared to the previous season, when Kwinana also experienced a bottleneck.

Mr Bignell said having less grain at port at the start of harvest and smooth shipping inspections at larger sites such as Brookton and York were "kept alive" throughout the period without concern.

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