Corn and soybeans are needed at U.S. Gulf export points producing a demand for barges that continues to push up barge rates and keep a lid on cash bids to farmers who sell crops into the river markets.
Barge rates went to 248% of tariff late last week on the mid-Mississippi from 238% a week earlier and to 178% at St Louis from 160%. However, those rates are still down from year-ago levels.
Much of the demand has been for corn with USDA reporting 315,000 tons of corn shipped by barge last week, compared with 337,000 a year ago. Add in wheat and soybeans and the week’s total was 513,000 tons versus 556,000 a year ago.
CIF corn bids for April positions at the Gulf firmed about 2 cents in the past week and were bid about 42 over May on Monday. Soybean bids weakened, dropping to 40 over May from 42.
Lock 15 near the Quad Cities was closed briefly for mechanical repairs and reopened Monday afternoon.
Farmers continued to sell minor amounts of old-crop corn and soybeans. Basis bids throughout the Midwest were mostly steady over the past week, with cash merchants letting the futures set prices.
Rain over the weekend in much of the Midwest halted fieldwork, which largely involved fertilizer and anhydrous applications. Planting is about two weeks away and dealers in Iowa and Illinois said there should be ample soil moisture for planting.
A central Illinois merchant continues to ship corn trains to the Southeast, with one being loaded early this week and two more scheduled later this week.
USDA’s weekly export inspections on Monday had corn shipments at 38.5 million bushels, down from 39.9 million a week ago and trailed the 40 million pace needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast. Mexico, Japan and Colombia were the leading destinations.
Soybean shipments of 20.9 million bushels were down slightly from a week ago but easily topped the pace needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast. China was the leading destination followed by the Netherlands and Mexico.
Wheat shipments of 12.0 million bushels were down from a week ago and less than the 17 million needed to meet USDA’s annual forecast.
USDA’s weekly grain transportation report said during the week ending March 14, U.S. average diesel fuel prices increased 2 cents from the previous week to nearly $2.12 per gallon. That is down nearly 75 cents from the same week last year.
Click on the link below to view more graphics.
Weekly Grain Movement - March 22 - Higher barge freight weights weigh on bids to farmers
Weekly Grain Movement - March 15 - Higher markets prompt farmer selling