The inland waterway has been so dry for so long that water levels south of St. Louis are now low enough to disrupt the movement of grain-hauling barges. And harvest has just started in Illinois.
To adapt to the shallower and narrower river, barges are being loaded lighter and fewer are being towed together. But those changes are driving up freight rates, which could translate to weaker basis levels for freshly harvested corn and soybeans and ultimately result is less profitability.
“Part of the reason the Illinois corn and soybean crop is so successful is that access to the inland waterway system,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Council. “Unfortunately, when that system is not operating full throttle, the consequences can be felt by many Illinois soy and corn farmers.” READ MORE