Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress report showed that the projected record soybean crop was 70% harvested, 21 points higher than last week, and slightly less than the five-year average pace of 73%.

Among the top three soybean producing states — Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota — only Illinois is ahead of its average harvest pace with 77% of the soybean crop harvested compared to the average 73%, the USDA said. Iowa soybeans are only 61% harvested compared to the average 81%, and soybeans in Minnesota are 83% harvested compared to the average 93%. Soybean shippers that use the Upper Mississippi River only have a short time frame left for moving grain by barge since the navigation season's winter closure nears (typically late November through late February). In preparation of the closing of the Upper Mississippi, barges in the St. Paul, Minn., area will begin departing for southern destinations starting mid-November, the USDA said.

For the week ending Oct. 21, barge grain movements totaled 552,350 tons, 14% higher than the previous week, and down 42% from the same period last year, according to the USDA's Oct. 26 Grain Transportation Report. For the week ending Oct. 21, 349 grain barges moved down river, up 8% from last week, and 1,022 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, up 43% from the previous week, according to GTR.