Grain Barge Logistics Improve as Mississippi River Recedes

This article has been reprinted from the July 3 USDA Grain Transportation Report.

As of July 3, the Mississippi River gauge at St. Louis was 37.4 feet, and forecasts for July indicate a rapid decline in river levels.

The river has been declining since June 26, which has allowed barge traffic to pass upbound and downbound through St. Louis.

With the opening of St. Louis (which occurs when river levels are below or near 38 feet), upbound barges have been able to travel up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers with empty barges of all kinds.

For the week ending June 29, there were 319 upbound empty barges passing through Mississippi River Locks 27.

This was the highest number of empty barges since November 2018.

For the same time period, there were 312 barges of corn and 209 barges of soybeans going downbound through Mississippi River Locks 27.

The weekly numbers of corn and soybean barges were the highest of the year.

Nearly the entire length of the Mississippi River has some types of navigation restrictions that include tow size limitations, traveling under certain bridges during daylight hours only, or taller vessels prohibited from traveling under bridges due to clearance restrictions.