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WEEKLY GRAIN MOVEMENT: Snow keeps farmers off roads

Gulf soybean market remains competitive for elevators with access to rail lines.

A snowstorm moved through the Midwest on Monday, making roads slick and discouraging farmers from hauling their crops to markets. Shipments had been slow ahead of the storm, too, as lower prices following last week’s bearish crop report discouraged sales.

Eastern Iowa may end up with 5-6 in. on the ground by Tuesday, while dealers in central Illinois said 3-4 in. may be the most snow total there. The fast-moving storm is forecasted to bring blizzard conditions to the Eastern Seaboard later this week.

Interior grain elevators are shipping small amounts of corn and soybeans to local processors. Ethanol plants in Illinois are buying corn for April needs.

The Gulf of Mexico soybean market remained competitive for elevators with access to rail lines. Active vessel loadings at the Gulf maintained a need for soybeans, particularly with farmer selling being slow at interior market points.

River navigation resumed for the season last week near the Quad Cities, and on Monday those shippers said they were loading corn and soybean barges for the Gulf. The corn basis weakened in the past week at the Gulf, but soybean bids remained firm.

Corn for March shipment to the Gulf was bid 38 over the Chicago Board of Trade's May this week versus 42 over last week, and April shipment was bid 38 over versus 40 last week. Soybeans for March were bid 27 over, and April was bid 23 over versus 23 for both last week.

Shipping grain by rail to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) appears to be returning to normal after recent winter weather delays. The delays had helped firm Gulf bids as shippers diverted some business to those ports. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said rail shipments of grain to the PNW during the week ended March 1 were up 33% from the prior week and were up 1% for the four-week period versus a year ago.

Active barge movement

Barge grain shipments during the week ended March 4 totaled 816,786 tons, up 52% from the prior week and up 86% from a year ago, according to USDA’s "Grain Transportation Report."

Grain vessel loadings at the Gulf remained active, with USDA reporting that 47 vessels were loaded during the week of March 2, up 24% from a year ago. Sixty-four vessels are expected to be loaded in the next 10 days, up 16% from a year ago, the report said.

In the rail sector, grain car loadings totaled 21,307 for the week ended Feb. 25, down 7% from the prior week and unchanged from a year ago.

For truckers, the U.S. average diesel fuel price was about unchanged during the week ended March 6 at $2.58/gal. That is up 56 cents from a year ago.

USDA’s latest weekly grain inspections are detailed in the following table and charts.

Corn export destinations, bushels – week ended March 9 – USDA 

Soybean export destinations, bushels – week ended March 9 –USDA

Wheat export destinations, bushels – week ended March 9 – USDA

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