Mississippi River’s low water levels slow crop movement even more than last year

Low water levels on the Mississippi River are mimicking last year and now the USDA has released data showing conditions are actually worse right now than this time in 2022.

Lately, the low water levels on the Mississippi River seemed to be mimicking last year’s water crisis. However, according to recent data released by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), the current conditions along the major U.S. waterway and trade corridor are actually worse than they were last year.

This graph (also shown in the video above), which was created with data gathered from October 2022 to September 2023 shows barge movement along the Mighty Mississippi from Locks 27 in Granite City, Illinois. While movement was low there on October 1st last year, it is even lower right now. For the week ending September 30th, movement was 35 percent lower than last year and 53 percent below the three-year average. For that specific lock, farmers were able to move 90,000 tons of corn, 2,000 tons of wheat, and 19,000 tons of soybeans to date.

NASA Earth shared this comparison of the river near Memphis, Tennessee. The beginning shows conditions on September 10, 2021. Then it fades to near-current levels (as of September 16, 2023), exposing some of the river bottom on the satellite view.

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