Two weeks of falling grain barge tonnages on the Mississippi, Ohio and Arkansas rivers have begun to reverse, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly Grain Transportation Report (GTR).

The week ending July 28 saw corn barge corn barge tonnage on the locking portions of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers rise to 512,000 tons, 31% higher than the previous week. Soybean tonnages rose 76% to 354,000 tons, the second highest weekly tonnage since March.

There were 923 grain barges unloaded in the New Orleans port region, the highest number since late November 2017.

The increases came after two weeks of decline earlier in July, as the Mississippi River navigation system recovered from recent high water conditions. But delays are continuing, notably at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam on the Upper Mississippi near East Alton, Ill.

Repairs have closed the main lock chamber there, a partial closure now expected to last until Aug. 10. The USDA say industry sources report delays of 40 to 60 hours.

As of July 31, spot barge rates, for export grain on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers, have increased 19% to 22% compared to last week.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.