Well Below Average: How Mississippi River water levels are impacting corn movement

For the second year in a row, transportation along the Mississippi River was impacted by drought. Export delays along with increased prices are impacting the competitiveness of U.S. corn in the world market, with buyers moving toward Brazilian crops.

For the second year in a row, transportation along the Mississippi River is impacted by drought — and this year, it has had a strong impact on corn movement.

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In July of 2022, more than two-thirds of the continental U.S. was under a drought, and that expanded to 80 percent through November. The National Corn Growers Association says barge movement stayed well below the average weekly pace through the year’s end.

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This year, drought has been less expansive, covering between 50- and 60-percent of the country. However, the dryness is more concentrated this year along the Mississippi River Basin, shown on last week’s monitor. Weekly grain barge movement followed a normal pace through May but then dropped as drought intensified.

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Taking a look at corn shipments specifically, the crop has been well below the three-year average the entire year. Export delays along with increased prices are impacting the competitiveness of U.S. corn in the world market, with buyers moving towards Brazilian crops.

The National Grain and Feed Association says exports were not impacted as much this year from the low levels because producers were moving fewer crops and competition was already at a high.

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