Market Matters Blog
Mary Kennedy DTN Basis Analyst

Thursday 02/28/13

Corn Basis, River Levels Higher

The attached chart (visible on DTN online products) shows the current average corn basis is above the 5-year average for this time of year. Corn basis has remained strong in spite of recent cash corn price improvement and possible export sector demand, although corn exports remain behind USDA projections. However, export inspections through the week of February 21 did increase by 19%. USDA reported a sale Monday of 127,000 tons of corn to unknown destinations with 1/4 of that old crop. USDA reported in the weekly Grain Transportation report that Mississippi Gulf corn inspections increased 78% from the previous week.

DTN Corn Basis Chart.

While total barge grain movement was lower last week, unloads in New Orleans (NOLA) were higher according to USDA. "During the week ending February 23, barge grain movements totaled 421,679 tons, 5.8% lower than the previous week and 18% lower than the same period last year. During the week ending February 23, 270 grain barges moved down river, down 11.8% from last week; 589 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, up 18.3% from the previous week," USDA reported. Barge freight was slightly higher in the St. Louis and lower Illinois corridor and unchanged elsewhere. For the week ending February 26, USDA reported Illinois barge freight was up 1% from last week, but down 15% vs. last year at this time.

Navigation on the Mississippi River has improved dramatically the past few weeks thanks to Mother Nature. The recent heavy snow storms and rain events have provided much needed moisture and have improved water levels enough to allow barge loads at 9-foot drafts and higher at almost all river locations. The St. Louis gage, one of main river trouble spots, was at 3.1 feet Thursday vs. 1.3 feet one week ago. Forecasters have stated that both the upper Mississippi River and the Missouri River could return to low levels because of lack of significant winter moisture in areas that feed both rivers. The NWS reported that both rivers will need more rain than normal in the next few months to avoid a return to the historic low levels caused by the drought.

Posted at 2:40PM CST 02/28/13 by Mary Kennedy
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