Barge discharges hit six-year low, Miss. River closed for another wk

14 Jun 2019 | Andy Allan

Grain and oilseed deliveries in to the port complex around New Orleans have slumped to their lowest in almost six years, as the worst floods in years mean hundreds of barges full of corn and soybeans have been kept waiting up river.

According to USDA data, 383 unloads were recorded in the first week of June, the lowest level since August 2013 when the Upper Mississippi River recorded one of its worst floods.

The figure for week 23 of the year is down more than 50% on the year and is also a six-year low.

The data, published weekly, shows that 16,557 barges were unloaded so far this year, 17% down on the 16,405 that were discharged last year.

The upper part of the Mississippi River, the main artery that takes barges from the Midwest to the US Gulf ports, is closed and navigation is banned until the river drops below 38 feet, according to the USDA.

That level is not forecast to be reached until next week.

“As of June 13, the St. Louis level is 44 feet and the National Weather Service forecasts the river will drop below the 38 foot level, by June 19. Many locks on the Mississippi River are closed, stopping down-bound grain barges originating on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers from reaching the Lower Mississippi River,” the USDA said.

The dearth of supply has seen offers of cargoes of soybeans and corn for July shipment disappear entirely or be offered above or close to offers out of the Pacific Northwest.

Typically offers from PNW are 30-50 c/bu higher than those out of the Gulf.