During the third quarter, inspections of grain (wheat, corn, and soybeans) for export from all U.S. ports reached 25.8 million metric tons (mmt), down 18% from the same time last year and 7% below the five-year average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported today.
Despite the drop in overall inspections of grain, soybean inspections reached an all-time high during the third quarter. Wheat inspections were also up from last year during the third quarter, but the increases in wheat and soybean inspections could not offset the large drop in corn inspections. Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain inspections decreased notably from the third quarter of 2018, due mainly to the sharp drop in corn inspections.
U.S. Gulf grain inspections decreased despite increased soybean and wheat inspections. Third-quarter grain inspections in the U.S. Gulf were 14.2 mmt, down 15% from last year and 7% below the five-year average. The U.S. Gulf’s share (55%) of total grain exports were above last year, but other regional shares were mostly down. Third-quarter rail deliveries of grain to the U.S. Gulf ports jumped 72% from last year, in part because of diverted traffic from the Mississippi River — a 17% drop in barge movements of grain through the Mississippi River locks was caused by navigational delays due to high water conditions.
Third-quarter PNW grain inspections reached 6.4 mmt, down 33% from last year and 15% below the five-year average, mainly because of an 85% drop in corn inspections. Rail deliveries of grain to PNW ports were down as well during the third quarter, falling 27% from last year. PNW soybeans, however, reached a record high during the third quarter, but wheat fell 6% from last year.
Third-quarter grain inspections for the Atlantic-Great Lakes region reached .942 mmt, down 18% from last year and 10% below the five-year average. Third-quarter corn inspections dropped significantly from last year for the region, and soybeans decreased slightly. Atlantic-Great Lakes wheat inspections were down 11% from last year during the third quarter. Third-quarter Interior inspections of grain reached a record 4.3 mmt, down slightly from last year and 30% above the five-year average. The interior accounted for 17% of total third-quarter grain inspections. Mexico accounted for 77% of total Interior grain inspections during the quarter, up from 72% last year. Asia accounted for 22% of total Interior grain inspections. Soybeans and wheat inspections in the Interior increased 11% and 27%, respectively, during the third quarter, but corn decreased 11%. U.S. Interior corn inspected for export to Mexico during the third quarter was up 5% from last year, and soybean inspections in the Interior destined to Mexico increased 45% from last year.