First Half 2017 Barge Tonnages 14% Above Average
Date Posted: July 13, 2017
This article is reprinted from the USDA's July 13 Grain Transportation Report.
For the first 6 months of 2017, grain barge tonnages on the locking system of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers were 17.6 million tons, 14 percent higher than the 3-year average.
Corn was the principal grain moved, representing 63 percent of tonnages for the first half of 2017, soybeans were 30 percent, and wheat, sorghum, barley and oats were 7 percent.
Despite the increased demand for barge services, barge freight rates have been below average for most of the year, which may be due to barge supply.
As of July 11, barge rates for export grain at major shipping origins are 5 to 26 percent below average, indicating that the barge supply has been more than adequate for the current demand and may be dampening rates.
According to barge operators, the size of the covered barge fleet has increased in recent years as more new barges have been built and a substantial number of open barges have been converted to covered.
Barge operators have reported that future rates for barge services will likely remain below average for the second half of the year.
For more on grain transportation demand for 2017, see this week’s feature article.