A look at the increasing levels along the Mighty Mississippi and the potential impacts to spring planting

Precipitation and the above average melting snowpack are taking the Mississippi River to record high levels, closing many locks and dams.

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Take a look at this chart of Clinton, Iowa from the U.S. Geological Survey. Just from last month, there has been a dramatic increase on the waterway, with levels reaching more than 20.5 feet. Just to put that number in perspective, analysts see 18.5 feet as a major flooding stage.

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It is a similar situation for the river in Winona, Minnesota. This week the river is approaching 19 feet, surpassing the major flooding level at 18 feet.

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Moving further south, down the mighty Mississippi, Memphis is not seeing as high levels, with this week coming in at 10.5 feet. Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition says that is due to the river being wider in the south.

USDA Meteorologist, Brad Rippey, shares what producers should be on the look out for.

“Not as much agricultural flooding along the Mississippi, but certainly as you move to the Red River Valley of the north and along the James River, we do see agricultural disruptions. The longer it stays wet, the greater chance that spring crops will never be planted. It could lead to an increase in some of the prevented planting acreage across that region as we start to tally the numbers for 2023.”

Mike Steenhoek says this turn of events is a reminder of just how fast the pendulum can dramatically swing regarding navigation on the inland waterway system.

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