THE 2013 harvest officially kicked off last week, with a delivery of oats into Viterra's Thevenard facility on Wednesday, September 25.
There have since been small deliveries of wheat, barley and oats into Penong, Port Pirie and Thevenard.
Viterra general manager-storage and handling Tim Krause said the company had planned ahead for harvest receivals potentially larger than the 2010-11 crop.
While the official PIRSA estimate for the 2013-14 season is 8.7mt, and the ABARES estimate stands at 8.78mt, outstanding seasonal conditions give plenty of upside potential to those estimates.
"We recognise that the upcoming harvest represents about $3 billion of value coming into our state, and we take the responsibility for that very seriously," Mr Krause said.
"In terms of managing the larger harvest, our first consideration is storage capacity, and this year we will have one of the lowest carry-over stock levels we've had in recent years.
"We've had a strong shipping program for 2012-13 and we've worked to clear as many sites as possible of grain, to have the largest amount of storage available to handle this year's crop."
Grain has been cleared away to such an extent that only two upcountry sites on the Eyre Peninsula have grain remanining in them and the Wallaroo bunker site, the biggest bunker in the state, will be empty.
Viterra is bring extra storage into service this year with a number of new, upgraded and extended bunkers.
"We've also invested in 10 temporary storage sheds, located across the state, so they can be used this season." Mr Krause said
Viterra was streamlining segregations to maximise capacity, rather than offer a large range at sites.
"This allows us to make better use of the storage and elevation capacity available," he said.
"For example, at Wallaroo we've moved lentls and faba beans to other sites. This will free up a significant amount of storage capacity and improve receival and elevation services for the major grades of wheat and barley."
Viterra has also been consolidating the small parcels of grain left around the state, for example, moving old crop feed barley to bunkers at Port Adelaide, to leave up-country capacity free.
"The Wallaroo bunker site is empty, which is pretty significant because it's the biggest bunker site in the state," Mr Krause said.
Elevation capacity is also critical at harvest.
"We have continued with our program of upgrading our drive-over hoppers and stackers, completing a further 21 this year across the state, and looked at cost-effective ways to increase capacity further," he said.
At Port Lincoln and Thevenard some rail receival points are being converted to receive road deliveries. This makes good use of existing infrastructure to provide growers with extra delivery points.
Modifications are also being made to the Roseworthy and Tailem Bend sites to allow efficient outturn during harvest.
Viterra will have a large 'over-flow' program to ensure the movement of grain from upcountry sites to ports for shipping during the harvest period.
"Sites like Tailem Bend will be running 24 hours a day," he said.
"They won't open for deliveries at all hours, but they will be operating 24 hours.
"We'll have crews working at night to out flow, consolidate and tarp the grain, to maximise the grower deliveries during the day.
"By overflowing the grain, it will keep as many points that growers can deliver to operating for as long as possible.
"We're looking to work two shifts in as many sites as possible, so we can expand and shorten hours for receival according to grower demand and weather conditions. It gives us more flexibility than running one shift, and assists with the management of fatigues issues."
Viterra will be employing about 2000 casuals during harvest - double the number that was put on last harvest.
"We have had more than 4600 applications so far, so it's been going well," Mr Krause said.
"Some sites are fully recruited but some sites, particularly in the Lower North and upper Eyre Peninsula are still looking for more people so we can provide those extra services and opearting hours."
He said the extra staff in regional areas would benefit the rural economy.
"We've got a lot of people going into rural SA and the flow-on benefits to local businesses will be huge," he said.
A strong shipping program so far this year has seen 5.7mt exported out of the state, with smaller tonnages set to go for October.
More than 6mt shipping has been booked for next year, which is more grain than has been shipped so far this year, and Viterra is continuing to look for opportunities to offer more capacity.
* Full report in Stock Journal, October 3 issue, 2013.