Barge grain shipments continue to fall

For the week ending July 21, grain barge shipments on the locking portions of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers saw its second straight week of decreased barge tonnages, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly Grain Transportation Report (GTR).

For several weeks, high water on the Upper Mississippi River has slowed barge traffic from St. Paul, Minn., to Davenport, Iowa, the USDA said. Delays are also being experienced at Melvin Price Locks and Dam on the Mississippi River, due to repair work that has closed the main, 1,200′ lock chamber. Barges can transit the smaller, 600′ auxiliary chamber, but at a reduced pace, according to the GTR. The Melvin Price repairs are expected to be completed by the end of July. Traffic delays are also occurring at Ohio River Locks and Dam 52, near Lockport, Ill., where operational difficulties at the dam earlier in the month closed the river. As of July 21, year-to-date grain barge tonnages were 21 million tons, about the same as the three-year average, but 9% lower than last year at this time, the USDA reported.

For the week ending July 21, barge grain movements totaled 651,930 tons, 12% lower than the previous week and down 47% from the same period last year. For the week ending July 21, 421 grain barges moved downriver, 52 barges less than the previous week. There were 803 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 3% higher than the previous week, the USDA said.

About the author

David Krapf

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.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Diane Eastabrook on

    Hello Dave,
    I am a Chicago-based freelance reporter for Al Jazeera English. Are you hearing anything yet about how the Chinese tariffs on soybeans are impacting grain shipping on the Mississippi River? Is it still too early?

    Thanks.

    Regards,
    Diane Eastabrook

    • David Krapf

      Not too much yet, but if the tariffs remain in place it will likely affect barge shipments. There is currently a lot of uncertainty revolving around the soybean and overall grain trade on the Lower Mississippi. The bigger story up to now has been high water/flooding, which has restricted barge traffic.

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