Since early this month the Mississippi River has been closed almost as much as it has been open. I reported earlier this week (click here to read more) that river traffic had been halted as U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers scrambled to dredge a useable channel. At that time, 97 vessels were awaiting passage with much of the northbound traffic carrying fertilizers.
33 of these northbound vessels were able to squeeze their way through the now narrow straits of Memphis until once again, a barge ran aground. Crews went straight to work setting the barge back afloat earlier today, but traffic slowed to a standstill.
Transport officials are beginning to look at ways of bypassing the river by sending goods via rail. Rail transport tends to be more expensive than river travel and with grain and fertilizers already onboard barges, the extra handling necessary to keep cargos moving will certainly add to the expense.
Since most fertilizer isn't applied until later in the fall, time really isn't an issue at the moment, but the potential for an early harvest this year could put early input supplies in high demand.