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WEEKLY GRAIN MOVEMENT: Rail problems in PNW support Gulf corn bids

Basis bids for corn rise at Gulf as exporters move corn to make up for delays.

Basis bids for corn rose several cents at Gulf of Mexico export points in the past week as exporters move more corn to the Gulf to make up for weather-delayed rail shipments in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

An export report for the week ended Thursday showed that 736,957 metric tons of grains were loaded at PNW ports, down nearly 8% from the prior week and down 9% from a year ago. Also a U.S. Department of Agriculture report said BNSF Railway’s grain carloads to the PNW during a week in early February were down 26% from a year ago.

The weather problems on the rail routes to the PNW have occurred since December and included freezing rain, drifting snow, avalanches and frigid weather.

A river shipper in the Quad Cities said they are being told that it may be April before rail traffic to PNW returns to normal. The higher values at the Gulf provided opportunities for river shippers to book sales. Corn for March shipment was bit 47 over the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) March this week, up 2 cents from a week ago.

The shipper said navigation on the Mississippi River near him should resume late next week, which is about normal.

Soybean bids at the Gulf have softened, prompting interior Midwest grain elevators to ship to local processing plants. An Illinois elevator said grain dealers are holding a lot soybeans and are constantly watching for market fluctuations to make a sale.

“You are going to have spikes, particularly if someone needs a vessel loaded quickly,” the Illinois elevator said of the Gulf export market. “Selling soybeans is pretty tough right now. Elevators in Illinois have a lot of soybeans.”

Active grain vessel loading

Grain vessel loadings at the Gulf remained active, with USDA reporting 43 vessels loaded during the week of Feb. 16, up 5% from a year ago. Sixty-seven vessels are expected to be loaded in the next 10 days, up 2% from a year ago.

Barge grain shipments during the week ended Feb. 18 totaled 740,704 tons, up 9% from the prior week and up 98% from a year ago, according to USDA’s "Grain Transportation Report."

In the rail sector, grain car loadings totaled 20,477 for the week ended Feb. 11, down 20% from the prior week and down 9% from a year ago.

For truckers, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased a penny during the week ended Feb. 20 to $2.58/gal. That is up 59 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 Feb 23 – USDA

Soybean export destinations, bushels – week ended Feb 23 –USDA

Wheat export destinations, bushels – week ended Feb 23 – USDA

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