Low Water Continues to Impact Grain Hauling on the Mississippi

(Radio Iowa) Low water levels on the Mississippi River continue to be a concern for barge traffic that hauls grain from Iowa and other states off to export. Iowa DOT spokesman, Stuart Anderson, says the lower Mississippi River levels have continued to drop.

“There’s fear that weather patterns are not going to be favorable for replenishing that. although I think there’s a lot of rain coming through at least Midwest here in a couple of days,” Anderson says. “I think to have the most impact on the lower Mississippi and Ohio River where there’s some challenges, I think they’d like to see that system move a little farther south than it is.”

He says barge operators have already had to adjust by not filling them as full in the shallower water.

“In addition, as you South of St. Louis the tow get to be wider, but they are having to narrow them instead of being five wide or four wide,” he says. “Basically a 20 percent reduction just in the number of barges that can go south.” The price of floating the grain downriver has also been impacted.

“Barge rates are a little higher, although not as high as we might expect,” Anderson says. “I think that’s driven by a little bit of a soft export market so that’s offsetting that a little bit.” Anderson says the situation is something grain haulers will keep an eye on as the harvest in Iowa and other states continues to move forward.