River traffic increases as grain harvest winds down

In the last two weeks of November, barge movements typically increase as corn and soybean harvests near completion and barges depart in advance of the Upper Mississippi River’s closure due to winter ice.

For the week ending Nov. 11, 695 grain barges, or 1.1 million tons, passed downbound through the locking sections of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. The USDA said that this was the highest weekly number of barges on the locking portions of the river system since July. Recent high water levels and repair work at Ohio River Locks and Dam (L&D) 52 have resulted in significant delays for downbound grain barges, as well as upbound empty barges on the Ohio River, according to the USDA’s Nov. 16 Grain Transportation Report. Barge traffic will likely continue at its high seasonal levels due to the improvement of navigation conditions at L&D 52.

As of Nov. 12, the soybean harvest is 93% complete compared to the 2012-2016 average of 95%, and the corn harvest crop is 83% completed compared to 2012-2016’s 91% average, the GTR said..

For the week ending Nov. 11, barge grain movements were 1.1 million tons, 14% higher than the previous week, and down 16% from the same period last year, the USDA said. For the week ending Nov. 11, 695 grain barges moved down river, up 17% from last week. There were 1,031 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, down 2% from the previous week.

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