U.S. Grain Transportation: Corn Inspections Highest Since October

For the week ending January 22, total inspections of corn from all major export regions reached .857 million metric tons (mmt), up 17 percent from the past week, 190 percent from last year, and 70 percent above the 3-year average.

Corn inspections were the highest since early October as shipments to Asia jumped 79 percent. Soybean inspections (1.6 mmt) increased 5 percent from the previous week and wheat inspections (.254 mmt) dropped 23 percent.

Total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, soybeans) reached 2.7 million metric tons (mmt), up 5 percent from the past week, down 10 percent from last year and 31 percent above the 3-year average. Grain inspections were up 19 percent in the Mississippi Gulf, but down 26 percent in the Pacific Northwest.

Graincar Loadings Remain Strong

U.S. railroads originated 25,062 carloads of grain during the week ending January 17, up 14 percent from last week, 18 percent from last year, and 23 percent from the 3-year average.

From the beginning of December through January 17, graincar loadings on U.S.-owned Class I railroads have exceeded 24,000 for 4 out of 7 weeks. Railroads have not sustained this quantity of graincar loadings over such a long period since the 2010/11 harvest.

Panama Canal Authority Approves Proposal to Modify Tolls Structure

On December 24, the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) approved a proposal to modify the tolls structure and regulations for vessels’ admeasurement for establishing the rates for the use of the new neopanamax locks currently under construction, and for vessels transiting through the panamax locks.

Image by Keith Robinson, Purdue UniversityThe proposal includes the adoption of measurement units such as deadweight ton, metric ton and cubic meter for calculating tolls, depending on vessel’s type and size. It also includes incentive initiatives for the full container, dry bulk, gas carriers and vehicle carriers/Ro-Ro segments. The new proposed structure will become effective April 1, 2016.

A new “Intra Maritime Cluster” segment is also introduced for vessels that provide local services in Panama but do not compete with international trade services provided by the Canal. The toll structure for the new segment will become effective April 1, 2015. The expanded canal is expected to be operational in early 2016.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales During the week ending January 15, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 33 mmt, 7 percent lower than at the same time last year. Corn export sales reached 2.2 mmt–a marketing-year high–much higher than last week. Wheat reached 0.458 mmt, up 61 percent, and soybeans, at 14,100 mt–a marketing-year low–were down 99 percent from the previous week. Rail During the week ending January 22, average February shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $300 below tariff, up $150 from last week and $1,494 lower than last year. Non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were at tariff, $1,000 lower than last year.

Barge During the week ending January 24, barge grain movements totaled 561,048 tons–17 percent higher than the previous week and 23 percent lower than the same period last year. During the week ending January 24, 337 grain barges moved down river, up19.1 percent from last week; 800 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans , down 6 percent from the previous week.

Ocean During the week ending January 22, 43 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 17 percent less than the same period last year. Sixty-seven vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 20 percent less than the same period last year. During the week ending January 23, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $34 per mt, down 3 percent from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $18.50 per mt, down 5 percent from the previous week.

Fuel During the week ending January 36, U.S. average diesel fuel prices decreased 7 cents from the previous week to $2.87 per gallon. They were down $1.04 cents from the same week last year.

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