Moving Grain: 2019 Barge Shipments Lower Than Usual

Grain barges. Photo: Kansas State University

2019 Grain Barge Shipments Lower Than Usual

Since the beginning of 2019, down-bound grain barge shipments on the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers have been hampered by severe cold weather and difficult navigation conditions. For the week ending February 9, total year-to-date (YTD) grain barge shipments were 2.7 million tons, 7 percent less than the same time last year and 27 percent less than the 3-year-average.

Corn shipments YTD were 1.2 million tons, which is 2 percent higher than last year but 28 percent less than the 3-year average. Soybean shipments YTD were 1.3 million tons, 19 percent less than last year and 32 percent less than the 3-year average. The total number of empty up-bound barges that traveled through Mississippi Locks 27, Arkansas Lock 1, and Ohio Olmsted Locks YTD was 3,410, 17 percent lower than last year and 23 percent lower than 3-year average.

The total number of grain barges unloaded in the New Orleans Port Region YTD was 4,392, 4 percent lower than last year and 6 percent less than the 3-year average.

USDA to Release Complete Set of Tables for Agricultural Projections to 2028

On February 14, USDA will release the complete set of tables prepared for the upcoming USDA Agricultural Projections to 2028 report. The new tables will include projections for farm income, U.S. fruits, nuts, vegetables supply and use, and global commodity trade. On November 2, 2018, tables containing long-term supply, use, and price projections to 2028, for major U.S. crops and livestock products as well as supporting U.S. and international macroeconomic assumptions, were released.

USDA’s long-term agricultural projections are developed through a consensus of departmental agencies and provide a long-term representative scenario of the agricultural sector, over the next decade. The projections can be useful to agricultural shippers in anticipating future transportation demand patterns for agricultural products. The tables will be in MS Excel format and posted to the USDA Office of the Chief Economist’s website.

Grain Inspections Down but Wheat Inspections Rebound

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For the week ending February 7, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.44 million metric tons (mmt), which is down 2 percent from the previous week, down 12 percent from last year, and 8 percent below the 3-year average.

Although corn and soybean inspections dropped 17 and 3 percent, respectively from week-to-week, inspections of wheat increased 27 percent. Wheat inspections increased primarily due to increased shipments to Asia, the highest since late December of last year.

Inspections of grain in the Mississippi Gulf decreased 8 percent from the previous week, but Pacific Northwest (PNW)

Snapshots by Sector

Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 21,508 grain carloads for the week ending February 2, unchanged from the previous week, down 13 percent from last year, and down 12 percent from the 3-year average.

Average February shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $467 above tariff for the week ending February 7, up $237 from last week, and up $67 from last year. Average non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $69 above tariff, up $119 from last week. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week last year.

Barge

For the week ending February 9, barge grain movements totaled 410,462 tons, 16 percent higher than the previous week and down 46 percent from the same period last year.

For the week ending February 9, 253 grain barges moved down river, 33 barges more than the previous week. There were 617 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 29 percent lower than the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending February 7, 26 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 28 percent less than the same period last year. Sixty-nine vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 17 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending February 7, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain, from the Gulf to Japan, was $38.00 per metric ton, 3 percent less than the previous week. The cost of shipping, from the PNW to Japan, was $21.50 per metric ton, 2 percent less than the previous week.

Fuel

For the week ending February 11, the U.S. average diesel fuel price was unchanged from the previous week at $2.966 per gallon, 9.7 cents below the same week last year.


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