How the Mighty Mississippi’s record-low water levels are impacting grain, fertilizer markets

Record-low water levels are popping up along the Mighty Mississippi.

On Now
more ms river update
On Now
water levels fertilizer
On Now
farmers storing more

The National Weather Service reported the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn., has fallen to a record-low elevation of -11.5 feet. That beats last year’s record of -10.81 feet. Several other records were set at various stops along the system, including in Cairo, Illinois, dropping to -4.5 feet, and New Madrid, Missouri, reporting -6.4 feet.

Those record low levels are leading to farmers storing more grain this harvest. Elevators are having to turn away loads of grain if farmers are not under previous contracts until levels come back up. Due to the lack of water, barges are not able to hold as much as normal, so some barges are traveling at half capacity. One farmer in Missouri told Brownfield Ag News, that a lot of grain bins that have not been used in quite some time are being filled this year.

Now is the time to think about fertilizer plans for next season. The president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association says the lower levels along the Mighty Mississippi could lead to shortages if farmers are not prepared. The Association also said, that most of their retailers are well stocked for fall — but if growers decide to add products at the last minute, they will have to be moved up the River, and there is no timetable for how long that will take right now.

Related Stories
While the “I” states are waiting for better weather, corn plantings are picking up in drier corners of farm country.
USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says there are a few silver linings in the spring forecast for farmers even if El Niño doesn’t make its exit in the coming weeks.


Congress has already approved more than $11 million for design work and $45 million for the first phase of construction, which is set to begin next month.
Ongoing dryness is taking its toll on corn crop production in Mexico and South Africa, two other top global corn producers, as U.S. corn producers see some relief.
The inflation rate seems to be dropping faster here in the United States than in Canada, but according to the chief economist with one of Canada’s largest banks, looks can be deceiving.
High input costs are standing in the way of farmers intending to shift to more sustainable practices, according to research by McKinsey and Company.
Agriculture Shows
From soil to harvest. Top Crop is an all-new series about four of the best farmers in the world—Dan Luepkes, of Oregan, Illinois; Cory Atley, of Cedarville, Ohio; Shelby Fite, of Jackson Center, Ohio; Russell Hedrick, of Hickory, North Carolina—reveals what it takes for them to make a profitable crop. It all starts with good soil, patience, and a strong planter setup.
Champions of Rural America is a half-hour dive into the legislative priorities for Rural America. Join Host and Market Day Report Anchor Christina Loren as she interviews members of the Congressional Western Caucus to learn about efforts in Washington to preserve agriculture and tackles the most important topics in the ag industry on Champions of Rural America!
Farm Traveler is for people who want to connect with their food and those who grow it. Thanks to direct-to-consumer businesses, agritourism, and social media, it’s now easier than ever to learn how our food is made and support local farmers. Here on the Farm Traveler, we want to connect you with businesses offering direct-to-consumer products you can try at home, agritourism sites you can visit with your family, and exciting new technologies that are changing how your food is being grown.
Featuring members of Congress, federal and state officials, ag and food leaders, farmers, and roundtable panelists for debates and discussions.
Host Ben Bailey hops in the tractor cab, giving farmers 10 minutes to answer as many questions and grab as much cash as they can for their local FFA chapter.