Market Matters Blog

Louisiana Flooding Affecting Transportation, Crops

Mary Kennedy
By  Mary Kennedy , DTN Basis Analyst
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This photo shows recent flooding along the Amite River at Ascension Parish, Louisiana. (Photo courtesy of NOAA)

Louisiana has been under siege for weeks from torrential rains causing catastrophic flooding as harvest neared. Crops are waterlogged in flooded fields, some rail lines were under water and roads closed, making transport of grain (or anything) difficult. Still, the effect on grain basis has been marginal, as basis had started to weaken along the river before the floods.

Ronnie Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, told Delta Farm Press on Aug. 16, "It's such a shame, really, because we had an excellent crop. It's hard to take. It probably wouldn't have been the record, but USDA had us pushing 50 bushels and that would have been second best ever."

Mike Strain, Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) commissioner, told Delta Farm Press on Aug. 17, "I've been on the phone with my federal counterparts daily. We're doing analysis of the situations on our farms and grain elevators. There are teams currently on the ground assessing the damage. It usually takes several weeks after floods have fully receded for our federal counterparts to have a full analysis of crop damages. We're very concerned a lot of our rice and soybeans won't be harvested."

AT THE GULF

Tom Russell, co-owner of the Russell Marine Group, told DTN that while weather forecasters did not report the recent rains as a tropical storm, it had all the features of one, minus the winds. "It dropped a lot of rain mostly north of NOLA (New Orleans). That area has a lot of small rivers that jumped up fast and caused the flooding.

"Bayou Sorrel (aka Port Allen Route) is closed due to high water for the next week or so. Bayou Sorrel route hits Mississippi River at Baton Rouge. The alternative New Orleans route is still open. The New Orleans routes hit the Mississippi River just south of the 'grain corridor' where most elevators are located. It is a little longer route but works.

"I know there is some high water on upper areas of the Illinois River but not near flooding. All rivers look like they will have a short-lived bump from recent rains but levels are safe. My big concern is tropical storm/hurricane activity for the second half of August and the first half of September. Most forecasts agree that it will be active in the area this year."

UP RIVER

Shippers up river are seeing a mixture of issues. Kent Hamm, buyer for the DeLong Company in Minooka, Illinois, told DTN, "Basis is much weaker in our area at the Illinois River on corn. I have heard that lower basis has been the recent result of Gulf elevator capacity at the CIF export houses. In talking with a grain merchant yesterday at Ottawa, he said his contracts to arrive were as small as he's seen since the spring and he had enough empty barges in front of him for the week.

"CIF basis had weakened before this big rain event. I believe all the importers are waiting for new-crop cheaper supplies," added Hamm.

A farmer near Rock Port, Missouri, told DTN the elevator there had long truck lines and was filled up because the train was late in getting to the facility. "The shuttle train showed up a day late. However, as far as I know, the only thing affecting basis right now is supply and demand. Everyone seemed to be sitting on a couple of bins of corn they all decided to move at once."

As for elevators in the flooded areas of Louisiana, DTN was unable to collect daily grain bids from some of the elevators we normally contact.

Road closures stalled truckers from getting loads to and from their destination and the Kansas City Southern Railroad had to close a mainline due to water running over the tracks.

In a statement released Aug. 19, the KCS said, "As previously communicated, excessive rains caused flooding in the South, resulting in a federal disaster area declaration for Louisiana as well as a declaration of states of emergency for both Louisiana and Mississippi. On Tuesday, Aug. 16, flood waters rose above our tracks on the mainline between Reserve, Louisiana, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (MP 819), resulting in the closure of the line. Although resulting in delays, detours are in progress for the impacted carload customers. Crews remain in the field both on this mainline as well as the other hard-hit areas in the south and are monitoring the situation."

Looking ahead, the weather news is not encouraging. DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson said late Friday, Aug. 19, "Heavy rain has eased up in Louisiana, but there will still be light to moderate showers throughout the next week to 10 days. There's not a completely dry day indicated until Monday, Aug. 29."

Information regarding road closures and reopenings in Louisiana can be found here at the Louisiana DOTD website: http://goo.gl/…

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

(CZ/AG)

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