U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins Lake Pepin Ice Measurements
On February 21, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, began taking this year’s Lake Pepin ice measurements, which are used to predict the opening of the Upper Mississippi River. Lake Pepin, located between Red Wing and Wabasha, MN, is the last part of the navigation channel for the ice to break up because of its slower river currents.
The navigation season begins when vessels pass through Lake Pepin and arrive in St. Paul, MN. Historically, the opening date of the navigation season occurs during the third week of March. Last year, the beginning of the navigation season was on March 9, when milder February temperatures and less ice accumulation allowed an early passage through Lake Pepin.
At this time, no estimates are available for the opening of the 2018 navigation season on the Upper Mississippi River.
USDA Agricultural Projections to 2027
On February 15, USDA released its USDA Agricultural Projections to 2027 report. These projections are the department’s official long run representative scenarios for the agricultural sector for the next 10 years, and are developed through a consensus of involved USDA agencies.
USDA projects a strong global demand for soybeans that is expected to encourage U.S. soybean plantings to exceed corn acreage, for the first time ever. However, competition from South America, primarily Brazil, the world’s leading exporter, is projected to lead to a reduced U.S. share of global soybean trade.
While falling corn production is projected to characterize the first few years of the forecast period, corn production increases are projected to occur in the latter years. The United States is projected to remain the world’s largest corn exporter, over the forecast period.
Grain News on AgFax
U.S. wheat exports are projected to decline in the short-run, followed by a period of slow volume growth. If realized, the projections could impact the demand for grain transportation.
Total Grain Inspections Down but Corn Increases
For the week ending February 15, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export, from all major U.S. export regions, reached 2.38 million metric tons (mmt); down 14 percent from the previous week, 17 percent from last year, and 14 percent below the 3-year average.
Although total grain inspections decreased, corn inspections increased 11 percent from the previous week, as shipments to Asia and Latin America rebounded. Inspections of wheat and soybeans dropped 15 and 28 percent, respectively, from the past week.
Mississippi Gulf grain inspections decreased 11 percent from the previous week, and Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections dropped 21 percent for the same period. Outstanding (unshipped) export sales continued to increase for corn, but decreased for wheat and soybeans.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending February 8, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 34 mmt; down 8 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .311 mmt; down 21 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were 1.98 mmt; up 12 from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were .561 mmt for the same period; down 24 percent from the previous week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 19,035 grain carloads for the week ending February 10; down 23 percent from the previous week, 7 percent from last year, and 11 percent from the 3-year average.
Average March shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $488 above tariff for the week ending February 15; up $271 from last week, and $694 lower than last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.
For the week ending February 17, barge grain movements totaled 571,243 tons; 25 percent lower than the previous week and down 23 percent from the same period last year.
For the week ending February 17, 362 grain barges moved down river; down 24 percent from last week. There were 545 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans; 27 percent lower than the previous week.
For the week ending February 15, 36 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf; 16 percent less than the same period last year. Forty-seven vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days; 30 percent less than the same period last year.
For the week ending February 15, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $43 per metric ton; unchanged from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $23.25 per metric ton; unchanged from the previous week.
During the week ending February 19, average diesel fuel prices decreased 4 cents from the previous week at $3.03 per gallon; 46 cents higher than the same week last year.