For the week ending Sept. 8, barge volumes for downbound grain on the locking portions of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers were 1.3 million tons, 24% higher than the prior week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly Grain Transportation Report (GTR).

Much of increase in barge traffic is due to the completion of repairs at Melvin Price Locks and Dam (L&D), near St. Louis. With elimination of the significant delays at the locks, the traffic backlog was able to continue its journey from the Upper Mississippi River to the Gulf, the USDA said. However, next week’s tonnage report may be affected by the current high water conditions caused by remnants of tropical storm Gordon that dumped significant rain on much of the Midwest. Gordon made landfall in Mississippi near the Alabama border on Sept. 5.

For the week ending Sept. 8, 844 grain barges moved down river, 172 barges more than the previous week, the GTR said. There were 722 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, one less than the previous week.

For the week ending Sept. 6, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.18 million metric tons (mmt), down 15% from the previous week and 8% from last year, and 6% below the three-year average, the USDA said.

The USDA said that although wheat and soybean inspections increased 5% and 19%, respectively, from the previous week, the increases could not offset the 43% drop in corn inspections. Shipments of corn to Latin America and Asia were down significantly from the previous week. Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain inspections increased 17% from the past week, but Mississippi Gulf inspections decreased 20%  for the same period. Outstanding (unshipped) export sales were up for wheat but down for corn and soybeans, the USDA said.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.