For the week ending May 29, barge grain movements totaled 860,760 tons. This was 16% less than the previous week and 9% more than the same period last year. For the week ending May 29, 535 grain barges moved down river — 43 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 777 grain barges uploaded in New Orleans — 9% higher than the previous week.

The Panama Canal is a vital outlet for U.S. grain and other container shipments destined for Asia.

The Panama Canal Authority announced an increase to the maximum allowable length for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks. Effective immediately, the maximum overall length for commercial and non-commercial vessels that will be accepted for regular transits of the locks is 370.33 meters (1,215'). Vessels measuring 367.28-370.33 meters (1,205'-1,215') must be equipped with a fully operational bow thruster — a propulsion device that aids ship’s maneuverability.

If a vessel in this longer but still allowed range lacks the bow thruster, it may be assigned additional resources (including tugboat assistance) at the vessel’s expense and be subject to transit delays. Such vessels will be assigned an extra, assistive tug when approaching Agua Clara locks from Gatun Lake (northbound).

On May 10, the Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) announced plans to open North Dakota’s first soybean crush facility in Spiritwood, N.D. ADM’s plant will have the capacity to process 150,000 bushels of soybeans into soybean meal and oil per day. ADM anticipates the plant will open in the fall of 2023. Spiritwood, ND, is located on a BNSF rail line and is just north of I-94.

For the week ending May 20, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 25.3 million metric tons (mmt). This was 7% lower than last week but 15% higher than the same time last year. Net corn export sales were 0.556 mmt, up significantly from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.056 mmt, down 34% from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.029 mmt, down 76% from the previous week.