Exports of western Canadian grain are moving again through the Port of Churchill.
The first grain ship of the 2013 shipping season was loaded last week at the northern Manitoba port.
The ship, Atlantic Dream, will carry CWB spring wheat destined for Mexico.
As o16f last week, two more grain ships were anchored at Churchill, waiting to be loaded.
The Churchill shipping season starts on Aug. 1 and continues until Oct. 31 each year.
The port normally handles around 500,000 tonnes of Western Canadian grain each year.
Last year, some grain industry observers predicted that changes to the Canadian Wheat Board will result in lower grain volumes at Churchill.
In 2012, roughly 421,000 tonnes of grain and oilseeds were shipped from the port, down from 508,000 tonnes in 2011 and 656,000 tonnes in 2010. The port’s 10-year average is 498,000 tonnes per year.
Total shipments in 2012 were Churchill’s lowest since 2004, when roughly 400,000 tonnes of grain were exported.
Despite numerous requests, The Western Producer was unable to arrange an interview with OmniTrax Canada, the company that owns the port.
Sinclair Harrison, president of the Hudson Bay Route Association, said his organization would like to see Churchill’s shipping season extended by two or three weeks, preferably into mid-November.
“Certainly it would help with shipments of new crop grain if we could get another three or four ships out in November,” said Harrison.
He said there is sound science suggesting that the ice-free period at Churchill is longer than ever.
Icebergs, which are sometimes present in July, are non-existent in late October and early November.
Harrison said insurers are reluctant to extend coverage to shipments that leave the port after the end of October.