For more information call 800-622-7628 !

News and USDA Data

A collection/archive of USDA Report data and our post-report comments, as well as featured article by Roach Ag Daily Grain Plan editors and writers.

John Roach
John Roach
John Roach's Blog

Mississippi Barge Rates to Challenge 2022 - Hil Anderson, Roach Ag Daily Grain Plan

A dry fall will do wonders for the pace of the harvest in the Mississippi River watershed, but it could also lead to a repeat of last year when historically low water levels snarled barge traffic and caused freight rates to soar.

Water levels along the Mississippi are reportedly already low enough to force operators to carry lighter loads, which won’t make it any easier or less expensive to haul newly harvested corn and soybeans to their downriver destinations. Tuesday’s reading at St. Louis was a little over -3 feet.

USDA statistics showed downbound barge rates turning sharply higher in late August and were basically doubled by the middle of September. The latest sampling pegged the acreage rate at Memphis at 817, virtually equal to the price some 800 miles to the north at Twin Cities. St. Louis rates, which were seen around 354 on Aug. 1, catapulted to nearly 721 last week.

Barge rates at different locations are used to calculate the final dollar price per ton for the trip. Last fall saw rates that worked out to a record spot price for St. Louis of $106 per ton for the week of Oct. 11, according to an analysis by the University of Illinois.

Drought conditions late last summer cut water levels to a record low of nearly 11 feet below normal and contributed to slower transit times and a dizzying spike in spot rates in St. Louis. Analysts said grain barge tonnage figures historically tend to be volatile in the fall. For example, rates along the Illinois River currently are lower for October than September.

“Typically, barges are loaded to a 11–12-foot draft during the fall, but companies started imposing 9-foot barge draft restrictions in October (2022), which can lead to a reduction of 10,000-15,000 bushels per barge,” the Illinois report said.

Heavy snowfall last winter provided a significant shot of water to the river, but the higher water levels didn’t last long, and the swift currents also stirred up the river bottom to the point that extensive dredging has been required to remove the resulting sandbars.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s weather forecast was encouraging with a “slow-moving storm system over the nation’s mid-section” late in the week that could drop up to three inches of rain in the northern Plains and upper Midwest and bring thunderstorms to the southern Plains and upper Great Lakes. The extent that the rainfall leads to higher water levels in the Mississippi remains to be seen, and there could be a lot riding on the outcome.


Comments are closed.
  • Contact Us Today!

    Our team looks forward to hearing from you.


We look forward to hearing from you.

About Us

Roach Ag. Marketing is a full service advisory firm founded in Perry, Iowa back in 1978 to help farmers do a better job of marketing their crops and livestock. Roach Ag Marketing moved their main office to Boca Raton, Florida after 21 cold winters in Iowa.

Contact Us

Roach Ag Marketing
568 East Yamato Rd. Ste. 200
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Telephone: 800.622.7628

Brokerage and consulting services offered by Roach Ag Marketing, Ltd, an NFA-registered introducing broker. The trading of derivatives such as futures and options involves substantial risk of loss and you should fully understand those risks prior to trading. Carefully consider whether trading is suitable for you in light of your circumstances, knowledge and financial resources. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.