Shipping and grain handling activity was light at the start of this week in many markets, with farmers holding tight to their remaining corn and soybeans and fieldwork delayed by recent rain.
A few soybeans were loaded on Mississippi River barges this past week to meet export commitments at the U.S. gulf but otherwise most soybeans went to local processors, while corn went by rail to the southeast poultry markets or to ethanol plants in the east.
Shippers on the Mississippi continue to report difficulty getting barges with the river open for navigation and demand strong. USDA said shipping on the upper Mississippi started March 25 when the season's first tow cleared the lock and dam at Hastings, Minn. A year ago, the start of navigation was delayed until April 26 due to ice, while the average start date is March 22.
Barge rates for the week-ended March 31 on mid-Mississippi River were 413% of tariff, down 2% from a year ago, while on the Illinois River rates were down 3% from the previous week, but up 2% from a year ago and up 9% from the three-year average, USDA said.
Related: Weekly Basis Review
On the Ohio River, barge rates were up about 9% from the previous week and up 6% from a year ago. Shippers said water on that river is rising after recent storms, which could slow barge loadings in the days ahead.
Midwest grain dealers from Iowa to Ohio report slow farmer selling of corn. There was a surge in sales a few weeks ago when prices moved higher, but have slowed since then.
Anhydrous ammonia was being applied to fields in central Iowa and other areas missed by rain, but corn planting will be determined by crop insurance planting dates, which in some areas was April 15.
The latest weekly export inspections on Monday morning put soybeans at 20.8 million bushels, down from a week ago but in line with trade forecasts. Corn's 40.5 million bushels were up 35% from the previous week and beat forecasts, and wheat's 13.6 million bushels was up from a week ago and matched forecasts.
For soybeans, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Netherlands were loading soybeans at gulf ports last week. The inspections for corn showed about half of the weekly shipments went out of the gulf led by Japan, Mexico, Iran and Colombia. Pacific Northwest ports took 33%, with all going to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and, the Philippines.
All of the sorghum's 11.8 million bushels went to China, with the majority going out of the Gulf.
Chart: Corn Destinations, Week Ended April 2 - Tonnes