For the week ending Jan. 20 (week three), downbound grain shipments at Ohio River Locks and Dam 52 were 378,000 tons, 138% higher than the previous week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in its weekly Grain Transportation Report (GTR).

Water levels on the lower Ohio River are now at sufficient levels allowing barges to transit the site through the navigable pass of the dam, rather than the time consuming process of using the lock, the USDA said. During the week ending Jan. 20, ice buildup at Locks 27 on the Mississippi River restricted tow sizes and reduced downbound grain tonnages at that site to 57,000 tons, a 47% decrease from the previous week.

Barge traffic in St. Louis (below Locks 27) has been hampered by low water conditions and ice, but warmer temperatures and rain have increased river levels and overall conditions are improving, according to the GTR. In addition, tow restrictions at Locks 27 were lifted on Jan. 20. The Illinois River is experiencing ice issues but improved weather conditions resulted in grain tonnages hitting 120,000 tons for week three, 77% higher than the previous week.

For the week ending Jan. 20, barge grain movements totaled 497,468 tons — 75% higher than the previous week and down 32% from the same period last year. For the week ending Jan. 20, 295 grain barges moved down river, up 68% from last week. There were 564 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 24% fewer than the previous week, the USDA said.