As of Nov. 12, high water levels on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers were decreasing and barge traffic was returning to normal operations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Recently, there have been increases in soybean barge shipments despite reduced export demand from China and poor navigating conditions, the USDA said in its weekly Grain Transportation Report. For the week ending Nov. 10, soybean shipments on the locking portions of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers were 547,000 tons, 43% higher compared to the previous week, and the highest weekly total for soybeans since late November 2017. Time is a factor for end of calendar barge shipments, as the Upper Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 20, at Canton, Mo., will be closed for repair work on Dec. 15. It will reopen on March 5, 2019. The closure will halt barge traffic from Iowa, northwest Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota for the winter.

For the week ending Nov. 10, barge grain movements totaled 973,427 tons, 14% higher than the previous week and down 12% from the same period last year, the USDA said. For the week ending Nov. 10, 622 grain barges moved down river, 82 more than the previous week. There were 766 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 13% lower than 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.