CHICAGO, Sept 29 (Reuters) – A key stretch of the decrease Mississippi River dropped this week to inside inches of its lowest-ever degree and is anticipated to stay close to historic lows simply because the busiest U.S. grain export season will get underway, in keeping with the Nationwide Climate Service.

Low water has slowed hauling of export-bound corn and soybean barges over current weeks as shippers lightened masses to forestall vessels from working aground and diminished the variety of barges they haul at one time to navigate a narrower transport channel.

The water woes come on the worst potential time for U.S. farmers as newly harvested corn and soybeans are starting to flood the market and as stiff market competitors from Brazil has already eroded once-dominant U.S. exports.

Parts of the river have been closed 22 instances since Sept. 1 for dredging or to take away barges which have run aground, and at the very least 36 groundings have been reported, the U.S. Coast Guard mentioned.

The Mississippi River dropped to a studying of -10.62 ft on the Memphis, Tennessee, gauge on Thursday, simply above its all-time low of -10.81 ft on October 21 final yr, in keeping with NWS knowledge.

The river is anticipated to stay under the -10 foot mark into at the very least mid-October, in keeping with the most recent forecast, making a choke level between heavy manufacturing areas within the Midwest and Gulf Coast terminals, the place round 60% of U.S. grain exports exit the nation.

“October’s not usually a sturdy precipitation month, and if we’re right here already … it’s an actual trigger for concern,” mentioned Mike Steenhoek, government director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

Low water has additionally pushed freight prices to the best ranges since final yr’s historic river woes and made U.S. grain a lot much less aggressive within the world market. BG/US

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; modifying by Timothy Gardner)

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