In 2015, total grain barge tonnages reached 35.5 million tons — 15% higher than the 5-year average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.
The 2015 total roughly matched the previous year (35.1 million tons) and was achieved despite adverse weather conditions that affected operators through the year.
The conclusions were drawn from data collected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and showed that weekly tonnages were above levels for most of the year.
Flood conditions hampered logistics at various times throughout the year, the USDA noted, and periods of low water during September and October caused delays due to groundings and subsequent dredging activities.
Repair work at Ohio River Locks and Dam 52, near Brookport, Ill., also caused significant delays in September and October.
While barge logistics were less than ideal, barge rates were near average for
most of the year until the beginning of corn and soybean harvest, according to the USDA. Barge rates peaked in late September, the agency said, and have since declined and been significantly below average.