About 80% of U.S. soybeans are shipped between September and February. Mike Steenhoek, Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, said flooding along the Mississippi River is delaying business. A five-mile stretch of the river near St. Louis is closed.
“There’s a real strong move to fulfill our export demand during this time of the year prior to the South American harvest, which traditionally comes online during February, March and April,” said Steenhoek.
He said winter flooding adds another uncertainty in agriculture.
“We’ve grown accustomed to having discussions about flooding on our inland waterway system due to the more unpredictable weather that we’re experiencing, but these discussions usually occur during the spring,” said Steenhoek. “What’s quite unique is to have this discussion at the end of December. It just underscores all the more that we really do live in a period of irregular weather.”
Steenhoek said the Mississippi Gulf is the leading export region.
“We see easily 800 million bushels of soybeans transported by barge down to those terminals located along the river,” said Steenhoek.
He said there will still be issues even if the river is reopened soon.
“You have to keep in mind that it’ll take several weeks for the water that’s currently in the Upper Mississippi River basin to work its way down south and finally get expelled from the Gulf of Mexico. So, this is going to be something that’s going to be with us for a number of weeks,” said Steenhoek.
Nearly 60% of U.S. soybeans and nearly 70% of U.S. corn are typically shipped through the Mississippi Gulf each year.
Julie Harker of Brownfield Ag News contributed to this story.