A bumper crop of wheat has led to a booming export business at the Port of Brunswick, with the first export vessel of the season departing Thursday.
“This is going to be a banner year, in the range of 90,000 to 100,000 tons of wheat moved across our docks at Colonel’s Island Terminal,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “Increased marketing to overseas buyers for domestic grain has contributed to a growing confidence among Georgia farmers to plant more wheat.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmland dedicated to wheat production in Georgia grew from 230,000 acres in 2012 to 350,000 acres in 2013. Statewide production saw a 70.8 percent increase, growing from 11.27 million bushels in 2012 to 19.25 million bushels this year. The 2013 wheat yield represents not only an increase in overall production, but also an improvement from 49 to 55 bushels per acre across Georgia.
Ahead of the port’s first export shipment, Brunswick General Manager Bill Dawson said the facility had about 60,000 tons of wheat in storage, and was still receiving shipments. Brunswick’s first ship of the year to take on wheat arrived July 23. The CMB Weihai took on approximately 33,000 tons of grain. Two other vessels, yet to be determined, will move the remainder of the wheat exports.
While most of the exported wheat was produced by Georgia farmers, shipments are also received from Florida, Alabama and South Carolina. On the East Coast, Brunswick is the second busiest facility for the export of wheat, behind only Perdue Farms in Virginia.
Foltz said that while most wheat grown in the region is used within the U.S., having access to the global market is good for farmers.
“Having a vibrant export facility in Georgia helps farmers get better prices,” he said. “Our global agribulk marketing means more customers and more competition for American farm products.”