Lack of barges slows grain shipments from Caruthersville

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KAIT) - Once again the weather is causing difficulties for area farmers.

Not so much as the actual harvesting but in the lack of river transportation to ferry it to shipping ports down South. Too much harvesting and lack of barges is causing some difficulties in Caruthersville.

I have never seen the Mississippi river with no activity of any kind. There is almost always a tow moving up or down stream. All I saw on Monday was water. At Bunge's bins they have the grain, they have the people at the loading chute but what they don't have are barges.

There are a couple of factors causing delays at the ports. One is the weather, the rain in October cut the harvest time down so that our harvest here is in sync with the harvest up North. Usually our harvest runs about 2 to 2 1/2 months.

John Ferguson with the Pemiscot County Port Authority says the rush is on.

"Most of our farmers are trying to  get their grain out in 2 to 3 weeks so of course that's going to cause problems with storage and shipping."

With the harvest here happening at the same time as up North the demand for barges is high to get the Northern products shipped first before winter sets in. A typical turn around trip for a barge from Caruthersville to New Orleans can take about 3 weeks. Mean while the trucks keep rolling in to the silos.

Of course demand drives up shipping costs also. Just this past weekend barges were in very short supply.

Ferguson,"Over one week period you went from 35 to 45 cents to 65 cents per bushel to ship the grain. As barges become available the price drops.

Caruthersville ships both grain and fertilizer on barges. It's the 3rd busiest port in Missouri with about 460 thousand tons per year.

Ferguson says once the Northern harvest is completed and shipped more barges should become available.

Over the past weekend, one shipping facility had to close on Sunday because they were full up.

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