Grain Barge Spot Rates Decline
As of August 14, barge spot rates for export grain dropped 1 to 13 percent, at principal origination points, compared to a week ago. Rates were elevated, in part, due to a several day closure of the main lock chamber at Melvin Price Locks and Dam, a critical portion of the Upper Mississippi River.
With the reopening of the main chamber, barge operators can supply more barges to and from the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Delays are occurring on the Upper Mississippi River, north of Clinton, IA, as a result of low water.
In addition, low water is delaying Illinois River barge traffic near Beardstown, IL. Traffic delays are reported at Ohio River Locks and Dam 52, Brookport, IL, where the smaller auxiliary chamber is closed due to high flows. Scheduled work on the main chamber at Locks and Dam 52 may result in a full closure for 2 days later in August.
CGB Finishes Facility Expansion Project
Last week, Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. (CGB) announced the completion of a $32 million expansion project at its soybean processing facility, at the Port of Indiana (Mount Vernon). The project, first announced in the fall of 2016, more than doubles the size of the operation, which increases opportunities for Indiana’s soybean farmers and CGB’s agribusiness customers.
The plant is the company’s only soybean processing facility and has access to inbound/outbound barge, rail, and truck transportation, as well as outbound container shipping. Roughly 60 percent of the facility’s volume is shipped by barge. The Evansville Western Railway, a Class III railroad, serves the port, connecting CGB and other shippers to the four U.S. Class I railroads—BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.
Grain News on AgFax
Grain Inspections Continue to Fall but Wheat Increases
For the week ending August 9, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans), for export from all major U.S. export regions, reached 2.34 million metric tons (mmt); down 8 percent from the previous week, up 24 percent from last year, and 8 percent above the 3-year average.
Wheat inspections jumped 42 percent from the previous week, but the increase could not offset the 35 percent drop in soybean inspections, the lowest since late June. Inspections of wheat for export increased to Asia and Latin America.
Total grain inspections increased 3 percent from the past week, in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), while Mississippi Gulf inspections decreased 25percent for the same period. Grain inspections, during the last four weeks, were up 20 percent from last year and 19 percent above the 3-year average.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending August 2, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 17.1 mmt, up 16 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .317 mmt, down 17 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were .554 mmt, up 90 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were .422 mmt, up notably from the previous week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 25,060 grain carloads for the week ending August 4; up 3 percent from the previous week, up 20 percent from last year, and up 13 percent from the 3-year average.
Average August shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $94 below tariff, for the week ending August 9; up $77 from last week, and $31 higher than last year. Average non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $131 above tariff, down $50 from last week. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week last year.
For the week ending August 11, barge grain movements totaled 942,372 tons, 16 percent higher than the previous week and up 1 percent from the same period last year.
For the week ending August 11, 605 grain barges moved down river, 99 barges more than the previous week. There were 667 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 9 percent lower than the previous week.
For the week ending August 9, 31 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 11 percent more than the same period last year. Fifty-five vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 10 percent more than the same period last year.
For the week ending August 9, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $44.00 per metric ton, up 1 percent from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $24.25 per metric ton, unchanged from the previous week.
For the week ending August 13, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.6 cents from the previous week to $3.217 per gallon, 61.9 cents above the same week last year.