Viterra recorded a solid result in terms of grain receivals for 2017-18, but the story was less rosy in GrainCorp's northern zones, where drought impacted production.

Tonnages well down, but bright spots for bulk handlers

There was no repeat of the 2016-17 record harvest, but some areas got through the tough 2017-18 year better than others.

THE DUST has settled on the harvest and the major bulk handlers are now getting a handle on total 2017-18 grain receivals.

The season varied wildly, with GrainCorp, with its major catchment through drought-ravaged NSW and Queensland, receiving less than half the grain it did last year.

The GrainCorp network has received 5.58 million tonnes, down from 12.09m tonnes at this stage last year.

On the west coast, however, CBH has recorded a solid result, receiving 13.2m tonnes.

It marks a massive turnaround from the end of June last year, where some analysts were forecasting the entire WA crop may be as low as 7m tonnes.

The north of WA’s grain belt struggled, but it was an excellent season for many in the Kwinana, Albany and Esperance port zones, including a record 2.82m tonne in receivals in the Esperance zone.

In South Australia, Viterra was pleased with its receivals of 5.6m tonnes.

Viterra’s total receivals for the 2017/18 season have reached 5.6 million tonnes.

Michael Hill, Viterra operations manager, said improvements to sites had meant 12 individual receival centres had recorded daily tonnage records.

He said harvest rain had caused some problems, but said overall crop quality had held up well.

A GrainCorp spokesperson said the drought had been particularly bad in its northern zones, where receivals were up to 69 per cent down year on year in Queensland.

NSW fared little better, down 68pc, but it was a slightly better picture in Victoria, which was down 21pc, with many area recording reasonable yields, meaning NSW deliveries were lower than those in Victoria for the first time since 2011.

The spokesman said the tale of the Walgett site demonstrated the extent of the drought.

In 2016-17 it received a whopping 285,000 tonnes but it did not open in 2017-18 due to a lack of grain in the area.

The spokesperson also said the company had been forced to contend with an array of weatgher issues, such as extreme heat and frost during the growing season, then harvest rain, which had meant there were quality issues.

However, he said GrainCorp was able to implement alternative segregations to ensure the grain could be delivered.

The busiest site in Queensland was Mt McLaren in central Queensland, followed by Goondiwindi West.

Condobolin was the busiest site in NSW, receiving over 90,000 tonnes, while several sites in southern NSW received over 80,000 tonnes.

In Victoria, Nhill, in the Wimmera region, received over 180,000  tonnes to be the biggest GrainCorp site overall for the harvest.

Many other Victorian sites exceeded 100,000 tonnes including Elmore, Murtoa, Quambatook, Warracknabeal and Yarrawonga.

In terms of export programs, GrainCorp reported smaller amounts of grain going through their ports, with strong competition from the domestic market, while in SA, Viterra has 4.1m tonnes of exports booked through its ports.

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