Market Matters Blog
Mary Kennedy DTN Basis Analyst

Thursday 11/08/12

Higher Water Levels, Deeper Drafts Lower Barge Rates

In the weekly USDA Grain Transportation Report, the Army Corps of Engineers reported that rainfall from Hurricane Sandy had caused the river levels in the lower Ohio and Lower Mississippi corridors to temporarily rise. In Memphis, Tenn., the levels on the Mississippi River were predicted to peak by the end of this week at 2.9 feet, which would make it one of the very few times it has not been in a negative range. As areas of the rivers rise, the draft levels have been reflected to show the deeper water, thus allowing more grain to be loaded on the barges. As of last week, the draft in the Cairo and south corridor was raised from 9 feet to 12 feet. The improving water and draft levels were one of the reasons that the rates decreased 31% last week on the Lower Mississippi. Due to the decrease of rates through the end of last week, the average soybean basis was 3 cents higher than the previous week.

The attached table from the USDA weekly GTR shows the current soybean (yellow) shipments vs. corn (blue) and wheat (red)shipments to the Gulf. When you compare shipments for the past year to current, you can see how much the Gulf soybean exports have overtaken corn exports and continue to do so.

By the end of last week, November 3, total barge grain movements were 52% higher than the prior week and 12% higher than the same period last year. During last week, 497 grain barges moved down river which was 49.7% higher than the prior week. Grain barges unloading in New Orleans totaled 848 which was 0.6% higher than the previous week. Once again, soybean barges outpaced corn barges as soybean barge movements continue to rise each week. During the 2012/2013 marketing year so far, 2.4 million tons of soybeans have moved by barge which is twice the amount for the same period last year at this time.

The attached table from the USDA weekly GTR shows the current soybean (yellow) shipments vs. corn (blue) and wheat (red)shipments to the Gulf. When you compare shipments for the past year to current, you can see how much the Gulf soybean exports have overtaken corn exports and continue to do so.

Posted at 2:54PM CST 11/08/12 by Mary Kennedy
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