Record crops swamp Geraldton

Peta Kingdon and Claire TyrrellCountryman

The Geraldton port zone is feeling the pressure of record-yielding crops as storages near full capacity.

On Monday, the Geraldton port zone took in 115,000 tonnes of grain, breaking the previous record for the zone of 88,000 tonnes set in 2008.

CBH zone manager Duncan Gray expects that within the next two weeks storage in the zone will be stretched to the limit and they may need to look for emergency space.

He said CBH required 50,000-100,000 tonnes of additional storage on top of the 500,000 tonnes already set aside for the zone this harvest.

"We are going to put the extra storage at Yuna and Mingenew, within the confines of the current receival points," he said.

The Geraldton zone is expecting more than three million tonnes of grain this harvest. Mr Gray said logistics at the bin were complicated by grain quality.

"We are still pegging at 3.2 million tonnes but we've got a lot more segregations given the grain quality," he said.

"There is a very strong possibility of getting more than this because yields have been higher than expected."

Mr Gray said an average of two grain ships a week were loaded at the port.

"We are heavily relying on shipping - everything is stretched to the absolute maximum at the moment."

He said the zone would receive more than 100,000 tonnes a day this week with the week's haul topping out at more than 500,000 tonnes for the week which was "unheard of".

"We would normally average about 350,000 tonnes in one week," Mr Gray said.

"We predicted about 3.2 million tonnes of all grades for the season but we may go higher than that," he said.

Eradu farmer Peter Barnetson said he was concerned that the Geraldton CBH terminal might fill up and he was hoping to get all his grain delivered within the next week.

He said CBH had underestimated the size of this year's crop.

"The situation there is only going to get worse until ships come in to out-load some of the grain," he said.

"CBH is doing a great job and at this stage doing the best it can."

Mr Gray said more than 60 trucks were banked up at Geraldton on Monday waiting to offload grain.

"There have been some delays but we knew that was always going to happen," he said.

"We are under pressure but the growers have been very patient and understanding."

Mr Gray said CBH had not kept up with the growth by farmers.

"Growers are advancing and buying more trucks and headers," he said.

"The growers have upgraded their equipment heavily but we haven't."

More than 600 truck movements have been going through the Geraldton terminal daily.

"We really can't keep going at this rate, getting 100,000 tonnes a day," Mr Gray said. "We will have to send 253,000 tonnes of grain out on shipping every month if we want this to be cleared by October 2012."

All CBH northern receival points will be shut down on Sunday for what Mr Gray says is a breather.

"We need to give our workers, contractors, growers and truck drivers a break from a fatigue point of view," he said.

The Geraldton terminal has been open until 10pm on weeknights and will run from 7am to 6pm on Saturday.

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