Today, the Mississippi River gauge at St. Louis was at 33.7', a decline from higher river stages in previous weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. The National Weather Service forecasts river levels will continue to fall into mid-July.

Mississippi River barge traffic at St. Louis was halted from May 23 through June 23, when river levels exceeded 38'. River closures occur at certain gauges, which are set by the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and barge industry representatives. Tow delays are reported at locks on the Upper Mississippi River, as traffic is slowly returning to normal operations. Navigation conditions have been improving on the Illinois, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers, the USDA said. The number of grain barges being unloaded at Mississippi River export elevators amounted to 14,998 year to date, a 19% decrease from the three-year average, according to the USDA.

In its weekly Grain Transportation Report (GTR) released today, the USDA said that grain inspections have rebounded as corn demand has increased. For the week ending July 4, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.1 million metric tons (mmt), GTR said. This is up 18% from the previous week, down 16% from last year, and is 10% below the three-year average. Inspections increased mainly due to a 147% jump in corn inspections, which were destined primarily to Asia and Latin America, the USDA said. Soybean inspections increased slightly week to week, while inspections of wheat dropped 12%. Total inspections of grain increased (from the previous week) in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and the Mississippi Gulf, by 26% and 33%, respectively.