Navigation Conditions Improve as Barge Spot Rates Decline

This article has been reprinted from USDA's March 22 Grain Transportation Report.

After several weeks of flooding, river levels on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers are receding and thus easing some navigational issues for barge operators in many locations. 

For the week ending on March 17, total barge grain shipments through Mississippi River Locks 27 increased 133 percent (594 thousand tons) from the average of the previous three weeks when high water conditions began.

Similarly, barge grain shipments through Ohio River Locks 52 increased 177 percent (209 thousand tons). 

Nevertheless, there is still some congestion and delayed transit times on the lower Ohio River, as well as at Cairo, IL, where the Ohio River flows into the
Mississippi River. 

Southbound barge traffic on stretches of the lower Mississippi River continues to be restricted to daylight hours with reduced tow sizes. 

As of March 20, barge spot rates for export grain dropped 10 to 24 percent, compared to the previous week at major originating locations.