Grain Barge Shipments Remain Low
The barge industry expects more delays in the coming weeks
Barge shipments of grain transiting Mississippi River Locks and Dam 27 (above St. Louis, MO), Arkansas River Lock and Dam 1 (near Tichnor, AR), and Ohio Olmsted Locks and Dam (near Olmsted, OH) remained low for the week ending May18. Total grain barge movements for the week were 369,250 tons, about the same as the week before and 54 percent less than the 3-year average.
Year-to-date (YTD) grain movement by barge for calendar year 2019 is 9.2 million tons, 26 percent less than the same time last year (GTR Table 10). Due to lock closures because of flooding earlier in the year, YTD shipments of up-bound fertilizer by barge are 11 percent lower than the 3-year average, at 4.4 million tons. However, for the week ending May 18, barges shipped 370,500 tons of fertilizer, 42 percent more than the 3-year average for the same period. This surge reflects strong demand for fertilizer, as planting—currently well behind schedule— continues. The barge industry expects more delays in the coming weeks, as lock closures and high water conditions continue to challenge barge operations.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Grain Transportation Report. May 23, 2019.