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Market Matters Blog           11/17 12:45
DDG Prices Jump Higher 
Divergence and the Rubber-Band Principle
China Cracks the Door Open for US DDGS Exports
DDG Prices Sharply Higher
Study Released on Impacts of Unscheduled River Lock Outages
Upper Midwest Fall Harvest Results Mixed After Summer Drought
DDG Prices Firm
US River System Still Not Flowing Smoothly Amid Fall Harvest
DDG Prices Firm
Bad Timing: River Levels Falling, Barges Stall Ahead of Harvest

******************************************************************************
DDG Prices Jump Higher 

   OMAHA (DTN) -- The DTN average dried distillers grains (DDG) spot price from 
the 39 locations DTN collects bids from was $124 for the week ended Nov. 16, 7 
cents higher from the prior week. 

   Merchandisers noted that markets have been climbing higher with the arrival 
of seasonal demand, which is catching some plants a little short of product. 
That is also due in part to the renewal of shipments to Vietnam after the 
fumigation issue was resolved in September, a market that exporters had been 
unable to partake in since one year ago. 

   Based on the average of bids collected by DTN, the value of DDG relative to 
corn for the week ended Nov. 16 was at 103.18%, and the value of DDG relative 
to soybean meal was at 39.94%. The cost per unit of protein for DDG was $4.59, 
compared to the cost per unit of protein for soybean meal at $6.54.

   CIF NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) prices for November were at $150 to $155 
per ton and December was at $152 to $156. Barges are in the process of heading 
south from the UMR to get downriver before locks start to close for the winter. 
Barges leaving St. Paul and south of there (MM857-MM640) need to be on their 
way by Sunday, Nov. 19, to make it past the final lock where the river closes 
for the winter. The last barges leaving the southern UMR down to MM240, need to 
be moving by Dec. 3.

   DDGS NEWS

   The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) reported that shipping containers containing 
7,850 metric tons of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) arrived 
into the Port of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, between Oct. 25 and Nov. 10, 2017, 
among the first orders filled following a September announcement by the 
Vietnamese government that it would lift its suspension of DDGS imports and 
ease fumigation requirements for U.S. corn and wheat imports. Manuel Sanchez, 
USGC regional director for South and Southeast Asia, was on site as the 
containers of U.S. DDGS arrived. 

   The containers were among the first to arrive in Vietnam following the 
government lifting a suspension put in place in October 2016. 

   "We are glad to see the first shipment and arrival of U.S. DDGS back into 
the Vietnamese market," said Sanchez. "The Council collaborated closely with 
our own government, the Vietnamese government and industries in both countries 
to resolve this trade disruption."

   Last week, DDGS imports into China saw a bit of good news when China's 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they would allow U.S. distillers dried grains 
with solubles (DDGS) to be imported without charging an 11% value added tax 
(VAT). While the VAT has been removed, the anti-dumping and countervailing 
duties remain, but shippers agree that this news may be one small step toward 
China possibly easing up on the current penalties.


                                              CURRENT       PREVIOUS    CHANGE
COMPANY   STATE                              11/16/2017    11/9/2017
Bartlett and Company, Kansas City, MO (816-753-6300)
          Missouri             Dry              $132          $132        $0
                               Modified         $68           $68         $0
CHS, Minneapolis, MN (800-769-1066)
          Illinois             Dry              $122          $118        $4
          Indiana              Dry              $122          $117        $5
          Iowa                 Dry              $120          $116        $4
          Michigan             Dry              $112          $112        $0
          Minnesota            Dry              $125          $118        $7
          North Dakota         Dry              $135          $128        $7
          New York             Dry              $132          $122       $10
          South Dakota         Dry              $135          $118       $17
MGP Ingredients, Atchison, KS (800-255-0302 Ext. 5253)
          Kansas               Dry              $130          $128        $2
POET Nutrition, Sioux Falls, SD (888-327-8799)
          Indiana              Dry              $125          $120        $5
          Iowa                 Dry              $120          $117        $3
          Michigan             Dry              $125          $120        $5
          Minnesota            Dry              $120          $115        $5
          Missouri             Dry              $135          $125       $10
          Ohio                 Dry              $125          $120        $5
          South Dakota         Dry              $130          $115       $15
    `              `
United BioEnergy, Wichita, KS (316-616-3521)
          Kansas               Dry              $140          $140        $0
                               Wet              $60           $60         $0
          Illinois             Dry              $140          $140        $0
          Nebraska             Dry              $140          $140        $0
                               Wet              $60           $60         $0
U.S. Commodities, Minneapolis, MN (888-293-1640)
          Illinois             Dry              $120          $120        $0
          Indiana              Dry              $110          $110        $0
          Iowa                 Dry              $118          $118        $0
          Michigan             Dry              $110          $110        $0
          Minnesota            Dry              $115          $115        $0
          Nebraska             Dry              $135          $135        $0
          New York             Dry              $125          $125        $0
          North Dakota         Dry              $130          $130        $0
          Ohio                 Dry              $115          $115        $0
          South Dakota         Dry              $120          $120        $0
          Wisconsin            Dry              $115          $115        $0
Valero Energy Corp., San Antonio, TX (402-932-5901)
          Indiana              Dry              $120          $115        $5
          Iowa                 Dry              $115          $112        $3
          Minnesota            Dry              $120          $115        $5
          Nebraska             Dry              $130          $128        $2
          Ohio                 Dry              $130          $118       $12
          South Dakota         Dry              $110          $105        $5
          California                            $188          $188        $0
Western Milling, Goshen, California (559-302-1074)
          California           Dry              $206          $215       -$9
*Prices listed per ton.
          Weekly Average                        $124          $117        $7
The weekly average prices above reflect only those companies DTN
collects spot prices from. States include: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska,
Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan,
Wisconsin and Indiana. Prices for Pennsylvania, New York and
California are not included in the averages.


                 VALUE OF DDG VS. CORN & SOYBEAN MEAL
                                  Settlement Price:     Quote Date              Bushel    Short Ton
                                               Corn          11/16/2017        $3.3650          $120.18
                                       Soybean Meal          11/16/2017                         $310.50
                      DDG Weekly Average Spot Price                                             $124.00
                             DDG Value Relative to:                         11/16            11/9
                                               Corn                            103.18%           95.93%
                                       Soybean Meal                             39.94%           37.52%
                          Cost Per Unit of Protein:
                                                DDG                              $4.59            $4.33
                                       Soybean Meal                              $6.54            $6.56
Notes:
Corn and soybean prices take from DTN Market Quotes. DDG price
represents the average spot price from Midwest companies
collected on Thursday afternoons. Soybean meal cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 47.5. DDG cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 27.

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com    

   Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn 

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Divergence and the Rubber-Band Principle

   I like the social media site Twitter. It brings a world of people sharing 
the same interests -- though not necessarily the same opinions -- to your 
computer screen opening the door to discussions on an untold number of topics. 
Recent examples, in my case, have covered behavioral economics in trading, the 
benefits of climate change and much discussion regarding the flow of money out 
of (and possibly into) grain and oilseed markets. 

   It's the latter I want to discuss in this blog post, following a question I 
received earlier in the week. I was asked, "Why did the (soybean) market not 
really do anything the day of the (USDA) report (Thursday, November 9) and are 
now down 20 cents this week?" This question came in Tuesday, when the January 
soybean contract was near its low for the week (so far) of $9.67, off 20 cents 
from last Friday's settlement of $9.87. My response was, "I see a collapse in 
the divergence between commercial and noncommercial traders. Last week's USDA 
numbers were "carp": Nothing bullish or bearish. However, Jan beans break below 
4-week low and sell orders are triggered this week." 

   Do you see now why I need more than 280 characters for this particular 
question? 

   Let's start with USDA's November numbers. In its monthly round of crop 
production and supply and demand guesses, USDA decreased 2017 production by 6 
mb, despite leaving harvested area and national average yield unchanged, 
resulting in a 5 mb decrease in ending stocks and no changes made from previous 
demand guesses. Again, don't try to do the math. USDA's November ending stocks 
guess of 425 mb was well below its prognostication of 495 mb from last June. 
This keep the downtrend of USDA guesses in place, and in line with what is 
normally seen, and could ending with September 2018 quarterly stocks near 310 
mb. For the week, January soybeans closed up 1/4 cent, but 21 cents off its 
weekly high. 

   That means, using this week's low of $9.67, the January contract is actually 
down 41 cents from last week's high. In my opinion, it has more to do with the 
noncommercial side of the market trying to get back in line with a commercial 
view that has been growing more bearish since August. 

   Take a look at the accompanying chart. The blue line represents the 
noncommercial net-long futures position (long futures minus short futures) 
reported each week by the CFTC in its Commitment of Traders reports. I use the 
Legacy reports, futures only. Notice that the latest report showed this group 
holding net-long futures of 70,814 contracts, an increase of 2,942 contracts 
from the previous week (these reports run from Tuesday to Tuesday). Meanwhile, 
as mentioned before, the commercial view continues to grow more bearish. Note 
the green line representing the nearby futures spread (nearby futures contract 
minus first deferred contract). Notice that it has been trending down, showing 
a stronger carry (more bearish view of fundamentals), while the noncommercial 
position has been trending up (larger net-long futures position). 

   Given that a market has only two sides, and in this case those sides were 
moving in opposite direction or diverging, I call this type of situation a 
"divergence." I've also described it using the Rubber-Band Principle, meaning 
that you can stretch a rubber-band only so far before it breaks and snaps back. 
In the case of commodity markets, that break usually means noncommercial 
traders tend to move, eventually and quickly, back in the direction of 
commercial traders. In the case of soybeans, that means selling some of their 
net-long futures position, maybe all before it's said and done, or before 
commercial traders start buying again. 

   The key is the commercial side usually (similar to the old four out of five 
dentists) doesn't change its mind based on silly USDA reports. Commercial 
traders leave that for noncommercials to do. Therefore, with the carry in the 
nearby futures spread bearish for quite some time, it was no surprise when 
noncommercial selling began, then accelerated as January soybeans moved through 
technical (chart based) price support. 

   For more information on that development, see the most recently Technically 
Speaking post on DTN. 

   To track my thoughts on the markets throughout the day, follow me on 
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DarinNewsom 

******************************************************************************
China Cracks the Door Open for US DDGS Exports

   China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on its website that it would 
again allow U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to be imported 
without charging an 11% value-added tax (VAT), the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) 
reported Nov. 9. The announcement was made in a report of key areas of 
consensus between the United States and China during President Donald Trump's 
official visit that week. 

   I spoke to USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight about this latest news, which 
had been rumored since June. He said China's statement to remove its VAT on 
imports of U.S. DDGS "opens the door a little" for U.S. imports. "We are 
pleased to see this move, which we've been working toward for months," said 
Sleight.

   However, while the VAT has been removed, the anti-dumping and countervailing 
duties remain, noted Sleight. China's Ministry of Commerce began anti-dumping 
and countervailing duty investigations related to U.S. DDGS exports to its 
country in January 2016. Those cases resulted in a final ruling against the 
U.S. on Jan. 10, 2017, with China setting anti-dumping duties at a range from 
42.2% to 53.7%, while anti-subsidy tariffs were set between 11.2% and 12%. 

   Along with the Jan. 10 duties applied to U.S. DDGS, Sleight said that also 
meant an end to the "ongoing exemption from paying the VAT. The combination of 
the duties and the VAT made U.S. DDGS exports to China even less competitive, 
affecting market prices and export flows globally." 

   Those "penalties," applied to both U.S. distillers dried grains with or 
without solubles, caused U.S. exports to China to fall from 5.4 million metric 
tons in 2015 to 3.3 mmt in 2016 and just 739,000 tons so far in 2017, according 
to USGC. 

   The council's staff members in China and the United States have been working 
closely with the U.S government at the highest levels for nearly a year to 
emphasize the importance of this $1.5 billion market to the U.S. grains and 
ethanol industries.

   "This change will immediately improve the competitiveness of U.S. DDGS in 
what was once our top market, which is a very positive thing," said Sleight. He 
also noted that this may be a step, albeit small, toward a possible negotiation 
over the stiff duties and tariffs U.S. DDGS exports to China still face.

   DDGS PRICES GAIN ON CHINA NEWS, U.S. RIVER ISSUES

   Internationally, the Asian DDG market continues to firm with noted buying 
support. Prices to China and Vietnam are up $2 to $3 per metric ton while other 
destinations saw lower bids. On average, 40-foot containers to Southeast Asia 
were steady this week at $202 mt. Early week buying was attributed to President 
Trump's visit to Asia that was expected to improve trade relations, while 
late-week price increases were due to announced tax/tariff changes in the 
region, according to USGC weekly price update.

   In DTN's weekly DDG price update on Nov. 10, prices rose $4 mt in the 
domestic market on average, and some merchandisers were in agreement that some 
of the support for prices came from the China news. Here is a link to the 
update posted Friday: https://goo.gl/u2kuAm 

   CIF (cost, insurance and freight) NOLA (New, Orleans, Lousiana) barge prices 
rose $6.50 mt the past week and FOB (free on board) NOLA prices were up $7 mt 
due in part to issues on parts of the river system causing freight availability 
to be tight in spots. Stoppages and slowdowns continue on the Ohio River due to 
higher water and ongoing issues at Lock 52.

   Ceres Barge Line noted that Ohio River shippers were in the market, buying 
"on-station freight" for the end of the week, as the lock is still closed, 
keeping the empties from getting into position. The USACE reported that as of 
Nov. 10, the navigation pass remained open during daylight hours only for all 
navigation traffic southbound and all light boat northbound. The USACE expects 
to reevaluate the restrictions by Nov. 13.

   The Illinois River was also "very tight" for the end of week and was seeing 
a few barges trade on that segment if on station, noted Ceres Barge Line. For 
the upcoming week, freight on that segment still seems to be all offers. 

   On top of that, the current estimated date for all barges coming from St. 
Paul, Minnesota, Upper Mississippi River MM 857 through 640 that need to be 
loaded and released is Nov. 19. The final date for the last segment of UMR MM 
520 through 240 is Dec. 3, according to American Commercial Barge Line. 

   Once this portion of the UMR closes for the winter, shippers need to find 
other, likely more expensive methods to transport not just DDGS, but all other 
commodities from the Upper Midwest to St. Louis down to the Gulf until spring 
when the river reopens.

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com 

   Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn

******************************************************************************
DDG Prices Sharply Higher

   OMAHA (DTN) -- The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) reported Nov. 9 that an 
announcement was posted on China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website that 
the country would again allow U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles 
(DDGS) to be imported without charging an 11% value added tax (VAT), 
potentially altering global DDGS market dynamics for the better. 

   However, while the VAT has been removed, the anti-dumping and countervailing 
duties remain. But it's a start in the right direction.

   The DTN average dried distillers grains (DDG) spot price from the 39 
locations DTN collects bids from was $117 for the week ended Nov. 9, 4 cents 
higher from two weeks ago. Merchandisers noted that markets have been climber 
higher as demand is firming with the recent onset of colder temperatures, 
especially this week in parts of the U.S. where winter is expected to make an 
appearance through the weekend. 

   However, some merchandisers were in agreement that support for prices came 
from the China news. One merchandiser told me the China announcement "priced 
itself in this week," moving the market higher on top of the strength seen in 
the domestic market the past few weeks. 

   Based on the average of bids collected by DTN, the value of DDG relative to 
corn for the week ended Nov. 9 was at 95.93%, and the value of DDG relative to 
soybean meal was at 37.52%. The cost per unit of protein for DDG was $4.33, 
compared to the cost per unit of protein for soybean meal at $6.56.


                             CURRENT     PREVIOUS      CHANGE
COMPANY  STATE                          11/8/2017    10/26/2017
Bartlett and Company, Kansas City, MO (816-753-6300)
         Missouri           Dry            $132         $125     $7
                            Modified       $68          $65      $3
CHS, Minneapolis, MN (800-769-1066)
         Illinois           Dry            $118         $115     $3
         Indiana            Dry            $117         $115     $2
         Iowa               Dry            $116         $110     $6
         Michigan           Dry            $112         $110     $2
         Minnesota          Dry            $118         $110     $8
         North Dakota       Dry            $128         $120     $8
         New York           Dry            $122         $120     $2
         South Dakota       Dry            $118         $110     $8
MGP Ingredients, Atchison, KS (800-255-0302 Ext. 5253)
         Kansas             Dry            $128         $125     $3
POET Nutrition, Sioux Falls, SD (888-327-8799)
         Indiana            Dry            $120         $110     $10
         Iowa               Dry            $117         $105     $12
         Michigan           Dry            $120         $110     $10
         Minnesota          Dry            $115         $105     $10
         Missouri           Dry            $125         $115     $10
         Ohio               Dry            $120         $110     $10
         South Dakota       Dry            $115         $105     $10
   `             `
United BioEnergy, Wichita, KS (316-616-3521)
         Kansas             Dry            $140         $118     $22
                            Wet            $60          $50      $10
         Illinois           Dry             $0           $0      $0
         Nebraska           Dry            $140         $118     $22
                            Wet            $60          $50      $10
U.S. Commodities, Minneapolis, MN (888-293-1640)
         Illinois           Dry            $120         $115     $5
         Indiana            Dry            $110         $110     $0
         Iowa               Dry            $118         $110     $8
         Michigan           Dry            $110         $110     $0
         Minnesota          Dry            $115         $110     $5
         Nebraska           Dry            $135         $125     $10
         New York           Dry            $125         $125     $0
         North Dakota       Dry            $130         $115     $15
         Ohio               Dry            $115         $110     $5
         South Dakota       Dry            $120         $110     $10
         Wisconsin          Dry            $115         $110     $5
Valero Energy Corp., San Antonio, TX (402-932-5901)
         Indiana            Dry            $115         $110     $5
         Iowa               Dry            $112         $110     $2
         Minnesota          Dry            $115         $110     $5
         Nebraska           Dry            $128         $125     $3
         Ohio               Dry            $118         $115     $3
         South Dakota       Dry            $105         $105     $0
         California                        $188         $180     $8
Western Milling, Goshen, California (559-302-1074)
         California         Dry             $0           $0      $0
*Prices listed per ton.
         Weekly Average                    $117         $113     $4
The weekly average prices above reflect only those companies DTN
collects spot prices from. States include: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska,
Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan,
Wisconsin and Indiana. Prices for Pennsylvania, New York and

      VALUE OF DDG VS. CORN & SOYBEAN MEAL
                  Settlement Price:  Quote Date       Bushel  Short Ton
                               Corn     11/9/2017    $3.4150     $121.96
                       Soybean Meal     11/9/2017                $311.80
      DDG Weekly Average Spot Price                              $117.00
             DDG Value Relative to:                  11/9       10/26
                               Corn                   95.93%      90.27%
                       Soybean Meal                   37.52%      36.20%
          Cost Per Unit of Protein:
                                DDG                    $4.33       $4.19
                       Soybean Meal                    $6.56       $6.57
Notes:
Corn and soybean prices take from DTN Market Quotes. DDG price
represents the average spot price from Midwest companies
collected on Thursday afternoons. Soybean meal cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 47.5. DDG cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 27.

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com 

   Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn 

******************************************************************************
Study Released on Impacts of Unscheduled River Lock Outages

   An October study commissioned by the National Waterways Foundation and U.S. 
Maritime Administration (MARAD) was released on Nov. 1 "highlighting the 
economic benefits associated with reliable inland navigation." 

   The study focused on four geographically different locks on the inland 
waterways system: Markland Locks and Dam (Ohio River near Cincinnati), which 
opened in 1959; Calcasieu Lock (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Louisiana), which 
opened in 1950; LaGrange Lock and Dam (southern-most of the navigation 
structures on the Illinois River), which opened in 1939; and Lock and Dam 25 
(Mississippi River, north of St. Louis), which opened in 1939. These four locks 
support traffic on every segment of the Mississippi River system, according to 
the study.

   "The study underscores that if the inland waterways were unavailable to 
transport the nation's freight, the average number of trucks on rural highways 
would increase and result in significant impacts on safety, highway maintenance 
cost and fuel consumption. Increased rail transportation safety impacts may 
occur at rail crossings, especially in urban areas and in increased fuel 
consumption," said MARAD Executive Director Joel Szabat in a press release Nov. 
1. 

   On the same day the study was released, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue 
posted on Twitter, "At the White House to talk to various stakeholders in a 
conversation about POTUS's infrastructure agenda. Important to rural America."

   The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) said in its weekly newsletter 
that Waterborne Commerce Chair Scott Leininger of CGB Enterprises, Inc., joined 
NGFA Director of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy Bobby Frederick at the 
White House "Rural Infrastructure Conversation" also on  Nov. 1. NGFA noted 
that the meeting featured remarks by Secretary Perdue, White House Deputy Chief 
of Staff Rick Dearborn, and DJ Gribbin, who is with the National Economic 
Council. 

   "During the conversation, Leininger thanked Perdue for shining a light on 
the dilapidated state of inland waterway locks and dams. Both Leininger and 
Perdue agreed that the U.S. transportation infrastructure provides a 
competitive advantage over foreign competitors, but that inland waterways must 
be bolstered to support Perdue's goal of growing American ag exports," said the 
NGFA.

   "The larger unknown is how improvements to these 1920s and 1930s locks and 
dams, which President Trump described as 'critical corridors of commerce' 
during his June visit to the Ohio River, will be funded," added the NGFA. The 
NGFA said it will continue to monitor and inform this debate, as well as "work 
with congressional partners who previously have helped defeat the concept of 
allowing for tolling or lockage fees on the inland waterways that would drive 
traffic off the river and increase the burden on U.S. highways and railways."

   The October study notes that on waterway segments where dams and locks are 
necessary, any disruption in a lock's operation can significantly inhibit barge 
transportation. In some cases, lock outages are scheduled to allow for 
necessary maintenance. These scheduled outages are announced months or even 
years in advance so that affected waterway shippers can adjust commodity 
inventories or otherwise prepare for the service disruption. 

   In other cases, however, "weather, accidents or mechanical failures" lead to 
unscheduled lock closures of varying durations. Because carriers and shippers 
have no opportunity to prepare for unscheduled lock outages, these closures can 
be tremendously disruptive to water-dependent commerce, according to the study.

   The most notable disruption recently was the multiple closures between 
September and October at Lock and Dam 52 and 53 on the Ohio River. These 
disruptions occurred at the worst time for farmers who were hauling their fall 
harvest to the river for shipment to the Gulf. Even though the river finally 
reopened there on Oct. 19, the backlog of tows is still an issue. 

   As of Nov. 3, Ingram Barge Co. noted on its website that Lock 52 had 27 
boats in queue, and informed shippers to plan for a one- to two-day delay 
transiting through there. All traffic is scheduled to transit the main (1200 
FT) lock chamber, while a contractor places stone above the wicket dam to 
facilitate repair efforts at Locks and Dam 52. The main lock chamber will be 
utilized in lieu of the navigation pass until river elevations exceed the 
maximum locking stage, 20.7 feet. Throughout the project, transiting the 
navigation pass will be evaluated based on river conditions, according to the 
river condition update on the website.

   One of the key findings of the study is that each of the four locks 
considered within the study "helps shippers avoid more than $1 billion in 
additional transportation costs each year." 

   Every time there are outages at Locks and Dams along the U.S. River system, 
barge freight increases in some of those cases. In turn, shippers may pass the 
extra costs to the farmer who hauls his grain to river terminals. Higher barge 
freight, and in some cases, the inability to haul grain due to river closures, 
can be detrimental to the farmer's bottom line and overall profitability.

   It's time the government takes action to help fix our waterways rather than 
continue to just talk about fixing them before it is too late and the whole 
system goes to ruins. 

   Here is a link to the National Waterways Foundation October study: 
https://goo.gl/M9KqLM

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

   Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn

    

******************************************************************************
Upper Midwest Fall Harvest Results Mixed After Summer Drought

   North and South Dakota and parts of northwestern Minnesota suffered severe 
drought conditions this past summer -- some areas more extreme than others -- 
during critical growth stages for corn, soybeans and sunflowers. I talked to 
growers in different parts of these drought-stricken areas and heard mixed 
comments about how the dry conditions affected the yields and the quality of 
the different fall crops.

   Onida, South Dakota, was in the area that had been considered to be in 
extreme drought most of the spring and summer. It was so bad that much of the 
winter wheat and some of the spring wheat was baled to feed livestock because 
pastures had dried up. 

   Tim Luken, manager of Oahe Grain in central South Dakota said, "Beans are 
done, and we while don't take any beans here, I can tell you, I have heard 
yields to be 15 to 60 bpa and have also heard a lot of 40 to 45 bpa." 

   "As far as our corn crop, I have talked with farmers and am hearing yields 
40 to 125 bpa," Luken said. "So far at the elevator, I have dumped corn with 
12.8 to 17.5 (percent) moisture and 54 to 60 (pound) test weight. This past 
spring, we had corn come up in three different stages in some fields, so corn 
had three different heights in the same field. If you go in those same fields 
today, you'll see an ear that's long and filled to the end and stubby ears not 
filled. Field moistures are all over in these type of fields at 18.5 to 21% 
moisture. Still, overall, farmers are pleasantly surprised with corn."

   Luken said he was worried about the sunflower crop, which looked uniform but 
came up short. "Then the August rains come and flowers took off, headed out and 
looked very good," he said. "Yes, there are a few wrecks out there, but overall 
very good-looking flowers. Yields I have heard are worst-case 500 pounds per 
acre, and best I have heard is 3,800; but talking with producers, there are a 
lot of 2,000-plus yields. Not sure about oil content yet, but I can't help but 
think it will be in the 42 to 45% range with test weight 28 to 36 lbs. We are 
dumping a lot of 32 to 33 lb. sunflowers, and thanks to the late frost we had 
this year again, the sunflowers picked up more test weight and oil content."

   "Remember how dry we were in May, June and July?" asked Luken. "August rains 
are the proof in the pudding that soybeans are a smart plant and can put yield 
on very fast."  

   Northeast of Onida, Ashley, North Dakota, was another area that was hit by 
extreme drought conditions this past summer. I reached out to Mark Rohrich of 
Maverick Ag who had just spent a late night harvesting. "Got the sunflowers 
done before the ridiculous wind of 40 mph and even up to 60 mph comes today 
(Oct. 26). The sunflowers showed their resilience to what I would expect in a 
dry year. Above-average yields with good test weights and oil."  

   "Our soybeans have been done for some time now, and most guys here are 
finishing up," said Rohrich. "The soybean harvest went well with yield from 30s 
to upper 40s; good bean yields for the moisture we had. We started on some corn 
this last weekend. Around 17% moisture or less so far on earliest variety. 
Because of the two-month-long dry spells, the corn plants are short with low 
and really low ears. Test weight is good so far, but yields are less than 
average but a little better than expected considering the season, and (we're) 
just happy to start getting it out of the field. We will get back to corn 
harvest when the weather settles, with about a week left to go there." 

   Ryan Wagner, Wagner Farms of Rosyln, South Dakota, told me that outside of a 
few spots that were too wet, they finished up with soybeans on Friday, Oct. 20, 
and started on corn. "Soybean yields were about halfway between average and 
last year's outstanding crop," said Wagner. "Viewed through the lens of last 
year's crop, I suppose you could consider them a little disappointing, but if 
we didn't have last year's crop as reference, we would consider this an 
outstanding crop. We had a good run harvesting soybeans with moistures dropping 
throughout harvest, and we finished with soybean moistures below 10%."  

   "Just getting started on corn, and yields look to be similar to soybeans in 
that they are above average but significantly down from last year's bin-buster. 
Moisture is ranging from 20 to 23%, and so we are running everything through 
the dryer at this point."

   Wagner said they have also begun fall fertilizer application with field 
conditions pretty good, if not slightly wet after the 7 inches of rain they 
have had in the last two months. "All in all, we are happy with the yields this 
year, considering how dry we were at the end of July," he said. "I think our 
no-till program really helped to conserve moisture and allow the crops to hang 
on for as long as they did, and the varieties and hybrids really seem to be 
able to handle a lot of stress and still kick out a decent yield."

   Heading into eastern North Dakota, an elevator manager told me that they 
were done with beans and ended up with a 39 bpa average versus last year's 
record of 52 bpa. He told me that the drought "got the beans," as they had no 
rain in last half August and his draw area experienced more Sclerotinia stem 
rot (white mold) than normal. 

   As far as the corn, he said that drought hurt the corn on poor sandy ground 
and last year's beet ground with yields at 120 to 140 bushels per acre. But he 
said they had fields where the crop "tapped into subsoil that ran 230 to 240 
bpa." Corn shuttles are not in demand right now at the Pacific Northwest until 
December forward so, the elevator manager said, "we have big carries and will 
have farms and commercials full."

   In southeastern North Dakota, Keith Brandt, general manager of Plains Grain 
and Agronomy in Enderlin, told me, "Soybean harvest is 98%-plus completed. 
Yields are better than expected at 42 to 43 bpa. We had no appreciable yield 
loss from dicamba drift."

   "Our corn harvest is about 20% completed," Brandt said. "Yields so far at 
170 bpa vs. last year yield of nearly 200. There is still too much 2016 corn 
unpriced or stored on the farm, which will keep price rallies limited. Basis 
will widen with any futures strength." 

   One thing to note versus last year, Brandt added, is that so far, he is not 
piling grain. "With the lesser yields and more farm storage, we should get by 
with not piling as much. Maybe 500,000 bushels or less this year compared to 
2,000,000 bushels piled last year."

   Tim Dufault, who farms in Crookston in northwestern Minnesota, said that, 
"Although the valley started September with 2 to 7 inches of rain, by the end 
of September, harvest was in gear and field conditions were fine. A 
warmer-than-average October was a big help for dry-down also. Most soybean 
yields hung near average. Early maturing varieties were hurt the most by the 
dry summer. They yielded from the teens to 30 bpa. Whereas later varieties were 
from 30 to the low 40 bpa. The beans were small in size. Another result of the 
dry growing season."

   "Corn has been all over the board," Dufault added. "Depends on if your field 
caught any of the spotty summer rain showers. From what I have heard, yields 
are from 140 to 190 bpa. Mostly around 160. Good test weight and moistures down 
to 17% this past week."

   Dufault said that while the summer drought for eastern North Dakota and 
western Minnesota wasn't as bad as it was further west, it did affect yields on 
the fall crops. "Most producers will have average yields, but the potential was 
there for a bigger crop before the drought hit," he said.

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com    

   Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

    

******************************************************************************
DDG Prices Firm

   OMAHA (DTN) -- The DTN average dried distillers grains (DDG) spot price from 
the 39 locations DTN collects bids from was $113 for the week ended Oct. 26, 2 
cents higher on average from two weeks ago. Merchandisers have noted that 
markets have been climber higher as demand is firming with the onset of colder 
temperatures. 

   Based on the average of bids collected by DTN, the value of DDG relative to 
corn for the week ended Oct. 26 was at 90.27%, and the value of DDG relative to 
soybean meal was at 36.20%. The cost per unit of protein for DDG was $4.19, 
compared to the cost per unit of protein for soybean meal at $6.57.

   CIF NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) DDG prices were steady with October at 
$146 to $152, and November and December at $145 to $150. The U.S. river system 
is still not in the best shape in certain spots, slowing barges trying to move 
south in those areas. As of Oct. 26, Lock 52 on the Ohio River still had at 
least 41 boats waiting to pass. Since only 12-15 boats can lock through each 
day, two- to three-day delays are expected, according to barge lines. The Upper 
Mississippi River (UMR) is closed intermittently through Oct. 27 for powerline 
work, also stalling barges in that area. Barges needing to transit the UMR out 
of St. Paul will need to be on their way by mid-November to get past the 
Davenport, Iowa, district before the northern section of the UMR river closes 
for the winter.

   NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR U.S. DDGS?

   The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is exploring the geographic advantage of unit 
trains carrying U.S. corn and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to 
Canadian feedlots around Lethbridge, Alberta. In their weekly global update, 
the council noted that the first unit train of corn sold in the 2017/18 
marketing year was delivered into Lethbridge the week before the recent October 
mission. "Thanks to continued market development work by the council and its 
Canadian consultants, more U.S. corn and DDGS will head north in the year to 
come." 

   According to the council, Canada imported 670,000 metric tons (26.4 million 
bushels) of U.S. corn in 2016/17 as well as 735,000 tons of U.S. DDGS, a 13% 
increase year over year. While these sales made Canada the sixth-largest market 
for U.S. DDGS, Canada has the potential to utilize more than 4 million tons of 
DDGS annually, which the council is working to capture. 

   "In the Lethbridge area, U.S. corn can be railed directly into the region on 
unit trains. Favorable pricing combined with these logistical opportunities 
promote inclusion into local feed rations." The council said it is working with 
other Alberta feedlots to support the development of additional trans-loading 
facilities in the region to further provide opportunities for rail shipments 
from the United States.


                     VALUE OF DDG VS. CORN & SOYBEAN MEAL
                        Settlement Price:   Quote Date      Bushel  Short Ton
                                     Corn     10/26/2017   $3.5050      $125.18
                             Soybean Meal     10/26/2017   $312.10
            DDG Weekly Average Spot Price        $113.00
                                  DDG Value Relative to:   10/26       10/5
                                                    Corn    90.27%       88.92%
                                            Soybean Meal    36.20%       35.85%
                               Cost Per Unit of Protein:
                                                     DDG     $4.19        $4.11
                                            Soybean Meal     $6.57        $6.59
Notes:
Corn and soybean prices take from DTN Market Quotes. DDG price
represents the average spot price from Midwest companies
collected on Thursday afternoons. Soybean meal cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 47.5. DDG cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 27.

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com    

   Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn 

******************************************************************************
US River System Still Not Flowing Smoothly Amid Fall Harvest

   As new-crop soybeans head to U.S. rivers for shipment to the Gulf of Mexico, 
low water in some spots, high water in other areas and ongoing service issues 
will slow shipments.

   The Ohio River near Brookport, Illinois, has been the biggest problem child 
this fall. After being closed for nearly one week due to rising water, the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reported that the Ohio River at Lock and Dam 52 
(L&D 52) reopened on Oct. 16. The closure caused a backlog of nearly 60 vessels 
with over 650 barges of all commodities waiting to transit the site, according 
to the USDA Weekly Grain Transportation report (GTR). 

   This outage was in addition to the river closure at Lock 53 on Oct. 2 due to 
a failure of the hydraulics that open and close the lower wicket gate.

   According to the USACE, Lock and Dam 52 is a low-lift wicket dam built in 
1928 consisting of 487 timber-and-steel wicket gates adjacent to one another, 
stretching the width of the Ohio River at mile marker 938.9. During periods of 
high-water navigation, traffic transits over the lowered wicket gates. But 
during low water, the gates must be raised individually to impound water, 
creating a navigable depth from Lock and Dam 52 to Smithland Lock and Dam, 
Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

   These are the same locks and dams that were closed from Sept. 6-14 due to an 
unscheduled maintenance outage at the 89-year-old facility. The navigation pass 
was closed to traffic while project personnel raised the wicket dam. 

   The USACE in a press release noted that, "During the raising event, there 
was a five-wicket hole encountered. Due to the increased velocity around the 
end of the dam, project personnel were unable to continue raising the wickets. 
As the river elevations fell, and with decreased water velocity, project 
personnel were successful in raising wickets beyond the hole. Once the wickets 
were raised and a navigable pool was impounded, navigation traffic began to use 
the lock chambers."

   Both dams were upgraded with "temporary" 1,200-foot locks to accommodate 
modern tows when the wickets are up. In a set of emergency repairs completed in 
June 2017 at a cost of more than $8 million, 82 of the wicket gates at Dam 53 
were removed and replaced, according to the USACE. "Locks and Dams 52 and 53 on 
the Ohio River are to be replaced by the Olmsted Lock and Dam, which was 
authorized in 1988, but will not open until the summer of 2018. Once Olmsted is 
finished, Locks and Dams 52 and 53 will be removed." The Ohio River becomes a 
tributary of the Mississippi River directly south of Cairo, Illinois.

   According to the Ingram Barge website, Lock 52 had 43 boats in queue as of 
Oct. 23, and each day, since only 12-15 boats can lock through, tows must plan 
for at least a four-day delay there. It was also noted that delays were 
occurring at various locks across the river system, causing long transit 
delays.  

   The website also noted that at miles 38-46 on the Upper Mississippi River, 
rock pinnacle removal, also known as subsurface rock removal work, was 
suspended due to the Cape Girardeau gauge rising above 15 feet. There was no 
estimate when that work will resume. As of Oct. 22, the river gauge was at 
22.43 feet and is not expected to start falling until early November. 

   BARGE FREIGHT RISES IN TROUBLE AREAS

   According to the weekly USDA GTR, as of Oct. 17, "Barge rates for export 
grain on the Ohio River increased 12% compared to the previous week due, in 
part, to a reduced availability of upbound empty barges." The GTR noted that as 
of the week ending Oct. 14, "The number of upbound empty barges that had 
transited L&D 52 was only 31, significantly lower than the previous week's 
total of 141 upbound empties." 

   As new-crop soybeans moved to the river in many areas, barge freight brokers 
noted that St. Louis, Illinois, Mid-Mississippi, Ohio and even MTCT (Memphis 
through Cairo terms) corridors were seeing a pick-up in activity. One barge 
line noted that shippers were trying to find "on station" freight to load 
Friday and Saturday, but rain expected on Sunday had left some shippers 
concerned about buying too much freight for the upcoming week.

   As long as there is demand for barges to move new crop, freight prices will 
likely continue to increase. On top of the harvest demand, slowdowns and 
stoppages due to lock repairs, high or low water conditions and general river 
maintenance could also add to higher freight costs.

   With the new-crop cash price for corn and soybeans already succumbing to 
harvest pressure, the increase in freight costs will only add to weaker prices 
for farmers.

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com 

   Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn

******************************************************************************
DDG Prices Firm

   OMAHA (DTN) -- The DTN average dried distillers grains (DDG) spot price from 
the 39 locations DTN collects bids from was $111 for the week ended Oct. 5, 1 
cent higher on average than one week ago. Merchandisers have noted that there 
are still a few spots down in Nebraska for fall maintenance where product is 
short and bids there were higher this week. However, once plants finish up fall 
shutdowns, prices will likely soften. 

   Based on the average of bids collected by DTN, the value of DDG relative to 
corn for the week ended Oct. 5 was at 88.92%, and the value of DDG relative to 
soybean meal was at 35.47%. The cost per unit of protein for DDG was $4.11, 
compared to the cost per unit of protein for soybean meal at $6.59.

   CIF NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) DDG prices were steady with October at 
$145 to $153, and November and December at $145 to $151. Barge traffic may 
improve up river as heavy rains in the upper Midwest have started to help fill 
rivers in the Upper Mississippi River. Rain is also forecasted for the South, 
which may prove beneficial to the U.S. river system, but the Mississippi River 
is not out of the woods yet as water levels in the Lower Mississippi River down 
to the Gulf are still falling. The Mississippi River at Memphis is still below 
zero gauge at -6.1 feet as of Oct. 5, and the entire LMR is still facing low 
water restrictions. Lock repairs on the Illinois River will slow traffic 
through at least the second week of October. Repairs at Lock 52 and 53 in the 
lower Ohio River are ongoing and excessive delays are occurring, according to 
barge lines.


                                          CURRENT        PREVIOUS        CHANGE
COMPANY                STATE                             10/5/2017      9/28/2017
Bartlett and Company, Kansas City, MO (816-753-6300)
                       Missouri       Dry                  $122           $122      $0
                                      Modified              $60            $60      $0
CHS, Minneapolis, MN (800-769-1066)
                       Illinois       Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       Indiana        Dry                  $108           $108      $0
                       Iowa           Dry                  $110           $110      $0
                       Michigan       Dry                  $106           $105      $1
                       Minnesota      Dry                  $108           $108      $0
                       North Dakota   Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       New York       Dry                  $120           $115      $5
                       South Dakota   Dry                  $108           $108      $0
MGP Ingredients, Atchison, KS (800-255-0302 Ext. 5253)
                       Kansas         Dry                  $115           $112      $3
POET Nutrition, Sioux Falls, SD (888-327-8799)
                       Indiana        Dry                  $110           $110      $0
                       Iowa           Dry                  $105           $105      $0
                       Michigan       Dry                  $110           $110      $0
                       Minnesota      Dry                  $105           $105      $0
                       Missouri       Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       Ohio           Dry                  $110           $110      $0
                       South Dakota   Dry                  $105           $105      $0
          `                  `
United BioEnergy, Wichita, KS (316-616-3521)
                       Kansas         Dry                  $118           $118      $0
                                      Wet                   $50            $50      $0
                       Illinois       Dry                  $124           $124      $0
                       Nebraska       Dry                  $118           $118      $0
                                      Wet                   $50            $50      $0
U.S. Commodities, Minneapolis, MN (888-293-1640)
                       Illinois       Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       Indiana        Dry                  $110           $110      $0
                       Iowa           Dry                  $105           $105      $0
                       Michigan       Dry                  $105           $105      $0
                       Minnesota      Dry                  $105           $105      $0
                       Nebraska       Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       New York       Dry                  $120           $120      $0
                       North Dakota   Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       Ohio           Dry                  $110           $110      $0
                       South Dakota   Dry                  $105           $105      $0
                       Wisconsin      Dry                  $105           $105      $0
Valero Energy Corp., San Antonio, TX (402-932-5901)
                       Indiana        Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       Iowa           Dry                  $105           $100      $5
                       Minnesota      Dry                  $105           $100      $5
                       Nebraska       Dry                  $123           $105      $18
                       Ohio           Dry                  $115           $115      $0
                       South Dakota   Dry                   $95            $95      $0
                       California                          $173           $170      $3
Western Milling, Goshen, California (559-302-1074)
                       California     Dry                  $185           $183      $2
*Prices listed per ton.
                       Weekly Average                      $111           $110      $1
The weekly average prices above reflect only those companies DTN
collects spot prices from. States include: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska,
Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan,
Wisconsin and Indiana. Prices for Pennsylvania, New York and
California are not included in the averages.

             VALUE OF DDG VS. CORN & SOYBEAN MEAL
               Settlement Price: Quote Date   Bushel Short Ton
                            Corn   10/5/2017 $3.4950   $124.82
                    Soybean Meal   10/5/2017 $312.90
   DDG Weekly Average Spot Price     $111.00
                      DDG Value Relative to:  10/5     9/28
                                        Corn  88.92%    87.37%
                                Soybean Meal  35.85%    35.85%
                   Cost Per Unit of Protein:
                                         DDG   $4.11     $4.07
                                Soybean Meal   $6.59     $6.46
Notes:
Corn and soybean prices take from DTN Market Quotes. DDG price
represents the average spot price from Midwest companies
collected on Thursday afternoons. Soybean meal cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 47.5. DDG cost per unit
of protein is cost per ton divided by 27.

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

   Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

   

******************************************************************************
Bad Timing: River Levels Falling, Barges Stall Ahead of Harvest

   U.S. soybean harvest is in full gear, and corn harvest is not far behind. 
However, water levels on the river system are becoming dangerously low, and in 
some cases, have temporarily stopped barges from moving.

   One would think that with heavy rains coming from both Harvey and Irma that 
flooded major cities and towns, the Mississippi River and its tributaries 
should have plenty of water. There's only one problem: Those historical rains 
never reached the major rivers to affect water levels.

   "During the last month, conditions unexpectedly turned dry through most of 
the U.S. The only location that experienced significant rain activity was the 
Deep South due to passing tropical storms," said Tom Russell of the Russell 
Marine Group.   

   DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson noted that the first week of 
October may be a wet period over much of the Western Corn Belt. "The U.S. 
forecast model during both Thursday, Sept. 28, and Friday, Sept. 29, has been 
featuring a swath of rain totaling from 1 to 3 inches from north-central Kansas 
northeast to central Minnesota. The area with heavy rain includes much of 
eastern Nebraska, northwestern Iowa, eastern South Dakota, and southwestern 
Minnesota."

   Here is the good news/bad news, according to Anderson: "There are several 
angles to this forecast that are worth noting. First, as my colleague Mike 
Palmerino pointed out in discussion Friday, there is not a universal forecast 
model call for this heavy rain. The European forecast model has probably about 
half the rain forecast that the U.S. model does. The Euro model is somewhat of 
an outlier, however, as the Canadian forecast model presentation agrees with 
the U.S. model. Nonetheless, there is some question about whether this rain 
prospect will actually verify."

   Even if this rain does materialize, "the entire (river) system does need 
ongoing rain to recharge," said Russell. "The river stage on the Lower Miss is 
expected to continue to fall throughout October. By the end of October, without 
rain, the water levels on the Lower Miss will be at very low levels but not yet 
reaching historically low levels."

   Currently, the biggest problem areas are Lock 52-53 on the lower end of the 
Ohio River and middle sections of the LMR (lower Mississippi River) around 
Memphis and nearby areas. Low water in these areas is causing delays up to five 
days. Russell noted that as of late in the day Sept. 28, locks 52-53 had a 
backlog of about 60 boats with tows waiting for passage. 

   That area on the Ohio River has been troublesome for weeks as lock repairs 
and now low water has been and continues to cause excessive delays. As for the 
Mississippi River, the level at Vicksburg is 6.7 feet above zero gauge and 
falling, according to the National Weather Service. At Memphis, levels as of 
Oct. 2 were 6.41 feet below zero gauge and falling, according to NWS. 
(https://goo.gl/KDEvB)

   Russell said that, "Tows on the Lower Miss have been reduced by five barges. 
Some barge terminals and fleets on the Lower Miss are having trouble moving 
barges due to the quickly falling river. There is heavy congestion in all areas 
due to harvest and low water. Also, rock pinnacle removal is taking place 
between St Louis and Cairo. The river is open during rock operations, but 
delays of one to two days are being experienced." A rock pinnacle is a 
formation in the river that becomes hazardous in low-water conditions, and 
dredges have to scoop out the rocks and then blast them into small pieces.

   On top of all of this, more lock repairs are scheduled to begin at key locks 
on the Illinois River through the middle of October, according to Ingram Marine 
Group. "Closures will be 0600 HRS to 1800 HRS each day and includes the 
following locks: Brandon Road, Marseilles, and Peoria Locks. During those 
periods, there will be intermittent river closures and delays."

   RIVER BASIS TAKING A HIT

   Just as soybean harvest ramps up and corn harvest is not far behind, the 
basis along the river has been falling apart thanks to the poor conditions on 
the river. Adding to the fall in basis is higher barge freight costs, which 
have jumped up due to the harvest demand for barges and the problems getting 
them to shippers.

   Spot barge rates have jumped up nearly 400% in the past week as shippers 
push to get freight to their stations to be prepared for harvest. To give you 
an example, barge freight in early September in the Twin Cities was about 
$23.21 per ton, and St. Louis was $8.78 per ton. On Friday, barge freight in 
the Twin Cities for the first week of October was $46.25 per ton, and St. Louis 
was $29.92 per ton. These extra costs are eventually passed down to the 
shipper, weakening basis.

   However, it is interesting that CIF Gulf basis for both corn and soybeans 
rose throughout the last week of September as vessels continue to arrive at the 
Gulf to load new-crop contract commitments. 

   Russell said that, in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge Harbors, "water levels 
are low in the Harbor but not at critically low levels. Barge and ocean vessel 
traffic is moving normally, for the most part. Some grain terminals and fleets 
are experiencing slowdowns shifting barges due to low water." 

   On Oct. 1, the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge was at 7.7 feet above zero 
gauge and falling.

   There are also reports of bids for barges "afloat," meaning a loaded barge 
that is ready to move or is already heading south, and the closer to the Gulf 
the better.

   Shippers have also been loading more rail cars for delivery to the Gulf. The 
USDA weekly Grain Transportation report noted that, "With the delays on the 
waterways, weekly railcar deliveries to the Mississippi Gulf for the week 
ending Sept. 20 were up 148% compared to the previous week." 

   As we head into October, aka harvest month, it is looking like we may not 
get much relief from low water, low basis and high barge freight. This comment 
from social media pretty much sums it up: "It may get worse before it gets 
better... and it's worse."

   Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com   

   Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn 

******************************************************************************

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