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Moving Grain: Barge Traffic Resumes, High Water, Flooding Continue

Ernst Undesser
From USDA May 18, 2017

Moving Grain: Barge Traffic Resumes, High Water, Flooding Continue

©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images

Grain Barge Movement Recovered, But High Water and Flooding Continue

Grain barge movements have recovered from the previous week, as high water gradually receded in the Upper Mississippi River. For the week ending May 13, downbound grain barge tonnages was 0.8 million tons at Mississippi River Locks 27, the southern-most lock on the Mississippi river, a 61 percent increase from the previous week. Total corn and soybean shipments were 0.71 million tons and 0.25 million tons, up 213 percent and 240 percent from the previous week, respectively.

 

 

However, the barge industry has reported potential pick-up and transit delays in parts of the Lower Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, and Arkansas Rivers. On May 17, most navigation on the Arkansas River was limited or stopped, due to high water and flood conditions.

The National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office forecasts that the Lower Mississippi River will crest near Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, and New Orleans later next week.

Labor Agreement Reached at Longview Export Grain Terminal

The Longview Export Grain Terminal in Washington has reached a new labor agreement with the Local 21 International Longshore and Warehouse Union. According to local media, negotiations lasted about a month and an agreement was reached smoothly. The new agreement gives grain shippers more confidence in their supply chain as the previous negotiations 5 years ago left shippers with delays and lengthy disruptions.

Increased Corn Inspections Boost Total Grain Exports

For the week ending May 11, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from major U.S. export regions reached 2.4 million metric tons (mmt), up 25 percent from the previous week, up 38 percent from the same time last year, and 26 percent above the 3-year average. Total grain inspections were boosted by a 66 percent jump in corn inspections which increased primarily to Asia and Latin America.

Wheat inspections increased 5 percent from the previous week, but soybean inspections dropped 24 percent as shipments to Asia decreased notably. Mississippi Gulf grain inspections increased 28 percent from the previous week, and Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections jumped 53 percent for the same period.

Outstanding export sales of grain were down for corn and wheat, but up slightly for soybeans.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending May 4, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 24.9 mmt, up 27 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were -.024 mmt, down significantly from the previous week. Net corn export sales were .278 mmt, down 64 percent from the previous week, and net soybean export sales were .381 mmt, up 19 percent from the past week.

Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 21,848 grain carloads for the week ending May 6, down 8 percent from the previous week, up 22 percent from last year, and up 15 percent from the 3-year average.

Average May shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $163 below tariff for the week ending May 11, up $42 from last week, and $25 higher than last year. Average non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $88 below tariff, $63 higher than last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers last week.

Barge

For the week ending May 13, barge grain movements totaled 988,238 tons, 204 percent higher than the last week, and up 18 percent from the same period last year.

For the week ending May 13, 622 grain barges moved down river, up 205 percent from last week, 519 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, up 3 percent from the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending May 11, 28 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 18 percent less than the same period last year. Fifty-two vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 30 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending May 11, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $38.25 per metric ton, 1 percent less than the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $29.75 per metric ton, 2 percent less than the previous week.

Fuel

During the week ending May 15, average diesel fuel prices decreased 2 cents from the previous week at $2.54 per gallon, 25 cents higher than the same week last year.

Full report.

Ernst Undesser
From USDA May 18, 2017