Grain Update | Major test for grain logistics

Major test for grain logistics


Cropping
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As the dry weather continues, focus is switching from crop size to the formidable task of accessing grain.

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Bumper summer crop represents the next opportunity to bring relief to the crippling grain prices.

Bumper summer crop represents the next opportunity to bring relief to the crippling grain prices.

As the dry weather continues, focus is switching from crop size to the formidable task of accessing grain.

Traders and private crop forecasters are saying the NSW wheat crop could slip below 2.5 million tonnes making it equal to the worst harvest in a decade. 

The Queensland wheat crop is also expected to fall below 500,000 tonnes, also one its smallest crops in recent memory.

Significant increases in domestic grain consumption in the past 10 or so years means the task of maintaining grain supplies for the domestic feed and food industries is vastly different that it when eastern Australia suffered its last major drought event.

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The number of cattle on feed, the single largest feed demand sector, surged to record levels in 2017 as industry responded to the growing overseas demand for Australian beef.

Industry reports indicate that the feedlot sector may use upwards of about 2.5 million tonnes of grain annually.

A major proportion of the feedlots are in NSW and southern Queensland.

Grain demand from other industries, including chicken production, dairy and pork as well as the large volumes of wheat consumed by flour millers.

More and more of the NSW and Queensland grain production has been consumed by domestic feed and food industries leaving increasingly smaller volumes moving into global markets. 

Ongoing drought conditions that have slashed grain production in Queensland and NSW for a second consecutive year leaving the states desperately short of grain to meet the needs of the for feedlots and other grain users.

Brisbane and Newcastle ports, which are normally business loading grain onto bulk ships destine for south east Asia are now at the centre of efforts to supply domestic needs.

Exports terminates designed to load grain have been reengineered unload grain interstate grain ships.

Numbers of vessels scheduled to unload grain in Brisbane has surged over the past eight weeks as it becomes increasingly difficult to access grain by road as supplies in south eastern Australia become scarcer.

Traders are saying that more than 400,000t of interstate wheat and barley was scheduled to be unloaded in Brisbane in July and August.

The sheer volume of the task has presented enormous challenges.

One of the most significant tasks has been keeping the constant supply of grain trucks to unload the ships within the tight discharge times imposed by the shipping companies.

There have been multiple reports of trucks having to wait hours to unload the flood of grain into nearby feed millers.

Traders are expecting the flow of interstate grain to continue well into next year as the prospects for the east coast harvest continues to deteriorate.

Southern Queensland is expected to harvest one of its smallest winter grain crops in many years.

But the absence of any meaningful harvest from NSW, which has endued the epicentre of the drought, means the bulk of the grain supplies will have to be drawn from afar.

Bumper summer crop represents the next opportunity to bring relief to the crippling grain prices.

Darling Downs farmers in Queensland are anxious to plant a massive sorghum crop, but widespread soaking rains are needed if this is to occur.

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