Heavy rain continues to affect parts of the central Plains and the Midwest, including some of the waterlogged areas of the eastern Corn Belt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture The heavy rains are keeping river levels high. The Illinois River at Meredosia, Ill., reached a record 28.83' feet on July 2, 11.83' above flood stage. As of July 22, river levels at Meredosia are at 25.6' and dropping. However, water levels at this location are expected to remain above flood stage (17') and the 20-year average level of 7' for the near future, the USDA said.

As of July 18, year-to-date barge grain tonnages reached 18.2 million tons, nearly the same as last year, but 13% higher than the five-year average, according the USDA’s Grain Transportation Report. The increase occurred despite weather-related conditions that challenged navigation capabilities on the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers. Currently, there is a backlog of traffic on the Illinois River as shippers wait for an extended dry period to lower river levels and allow passage through the flooded areas.

For the week ending July 16, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, soybeans) from all major export regions reached 1.9 million metric tons (mmt), up 21% from the past week, 23% higher than last year, and 43% above the three-year average, according to the GTR. Total inspections of grain were also the highest since late April. Wheat and soybean inspections rebounded, increasing 68% and 97% respectively from the previous week. Corn inspections remained over one mmt, decreasing only 1% from the past week, the GTR said.

Pacific Northwest grain inspections jumped 89% and Mississippi Gulf grain inspections increased 16% from the previous week.

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.