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Published November 25, 2009, 11:40 AM

Transporting the harvest

By: Danielle Kaeding, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram

This fall’s wet harvest has put grain shipments behind schedule on the Upper Mississippi River. However, shipments are up on Lake Superior.

Kent Pehler says they were waiting on the weather this fall. Pehler is CEO of Brennan Marine. The company provides services to barge lines in the port of La Crosse. Pehler says grain shipments were off about 50 percent in mid-October. The soybean harvest is over, but farmers just started the corn harvest this month. He says the first half of November has been strong, but it hasn’t made up for lost volume.

Pehler says shipments are still around 25 percent off compared to last year at this time. Meanwhile, grain shipments are up in the port of Superior according to Ron Johnson. He’s the Trade Development Director with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. Johnson says they loaded nearly 1.3 million tons through the end of October. He says that’s an almost 28 percent increase in shipments from last year.

However, Johnson says most of the grain they ship is wheat. He adds the port saw grain shipments take a dive last year with cheaper wheat available elsewhere in the world.

Both Johnson and Pehler say their shipping seasons will be longer this year. Johnson says the seaway locks won’t close until December 29th. Meanwhile, Pehler says they may see some limited grain loading until locks on the Upper Mississippi River close for maintenance on Dec. 7.

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