For the week ending April 28, barge grain movements totaled 739,350 tons, 13% higher than the previous week, and down 11% from the same period last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For the week ending April 28, 473 grain barges moved down river, 21 barges more than the previous week. There were 656 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 7% lower than the previous week.

Flooding and high water conditions on the lower Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, La., and surrounding areas, continues to cause delays in barge operations. Slower transit times, due to adverse navigation conditions, have caused traffic congestion in the area. The barge industry has added towboats while reducing the number of barges towed per boat, to adjust operations to the fast and high river conditions. Daylight-only transits remain through Vicksburg, Miss. and Baton Rouge bridges. The barge industry expects delays to persist for the foreseeable future. Barge spot rates, for export grain from major originating points, have fluctuated for several weeks. However, spot rates are currently 37% to 70% higher than the 3-year average, due to higher operating costs, DOA reported.

For the week ending April 30, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 2 cents from the previous week at $3.16 per gallon, 57 cents higher than the same week last year.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.