Rain and flooding disrupted fall harvests and grain shipments in eastern Iowa the past few days and grain shippers on the Mississippi River said high water later this week could halt barge movement to U.S. Gulf for a few days.
The good news for farmers and shippers is forecasts call for mostly dry weather this week for the Midwest, which should allow fields to dry out and flood waters to recede. Farm Futures calculates that 25% of the U.S. corn crop has received more than twice its normal precipitation in the past two weeks and 12% of the crop had more than three times.
In east central Iowa, farmers harvested corn from low-lying fields this past weekend to rescue the crop before it went under water.
“We stayed open all day on Saturday,” Roger Frick, location manager at ECI Co-op in La Porte City, said of the harvesting efforts. “They were running in anywhere from 6 to 18 inches of water. The combines were running in those conditions. It is bottom ground, it is prone to flooding.”
A soybean field a few blocks from the ECI elevator had 18 to 22 inches of standing water.
The rain and flooding affected truck and rail shipments, with some county roads flooded and at least one railroad wanted to inspect a bridge before sending trains over them. Frick expects the roads and railroads to be back to normal by midweek.
“We loaded 15 rail cars with corn late last week and the Iowa Northern was not able to move them. They are still sitting here this morning,” said Frick. “I don’t think the tracks are flooded but the railroad said it wanted to inspect their bridge downstream by Denton before they drove over it.”
On the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities, grain elevators were loading grain barges, but said shipments may be halted later this week when the river gets too high. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forecast the water level on the Mississippi River in southeast Iowa will surpass major flood level late this week.
The Mississippi River is expected to crest above the major flood level late this week near Gladstone, Illinois, which is adjacent to southeast Iowa. River shippers said barge traffic may be halted a few days. Flooding along the Cedar River in Iowa has caused evacuations in Cedar Rapids.
The rain and flooding appeared to have little effect on the corn and soybean markets, which were a few cents lower on Monday morning as traders appeared to be more focused on the upcoming harvest. The forecasts for dry weather should allow harvest to resume later this week, grain dealers said.
“Even though some areas are being hit hard by this event, it’s always very difficult to quantify damage. The first signs could show up in this afternoon’s Crop Progress reports, although big changes to ratings are not expected this late in the growing season,” said Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures senior grain analyst.
Forecasts call for dry weather in the Midwest the next few days, which should allow floodwaters in Iowa to recede and crop fields there to dry.
In western in Iowa, the corn and soybean harvests were just beginning as the crops are just now reaching maturity. About 2 inches of rain fell during the weekend in southwest Iowa, along the I-80 corridor, which may sideline combines for a few days, a local grain merchant said.