Bonneville Dam Lock Closure Stops Inland Grain Exports To Global Markets
The Northwest’s soft white wheat harvest is in full swing, but that grain is going nowhere fast. That’s because of an emergency repair to a lock at Bonneville Dam on the Lower Columbia River.
So far, there’s no word on when the lock will reopen to barge traffic.
The bulk of the Northwest’s wheat is shipped down the Snake and Columbia rivers to Portland and Vancouver, Wash., which means all that traffic is on hold for the time being. The grain is largely exported to Pacific Rim countries.
Tug and barging company Tidewater is mooring its vessels in place on the Columbia until they get the all-clear from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That creates a backup of wheat orders, according to Tidewater spokeswoman Jennifer Riddle.
“We are hopeful that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have the repair done very shortly and those ripples will be very subtle,” spokesperson Jennifer Riddle said Monday.
River traffic through Bonneville has been closed since September 5 as crews assess and begin fixing what they’ve described as an issue with “the concrete sill under the downstream gate.”
The Associated Press reported Monday:
Eight million tons of cargo move inland on the Columbia and Snake rivers each year, and 53% of U.S. wheat exports were transported on the Columbia River in 2017 . . . About $2 billion in commercial cargo travels the entire system annually, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it’s the No. 1 export gate in the U.S. for wheat and barley and the No. 2 export gate for corn.
Much of the Northwest’s high country is still deep in good snowpack but short on rain this spring. That has dryland wheat farmers and cattle ranchers fretting. Cold, wind and dust are even wreaking havoc with produce farmers in the region. Continue Reading Northwest Snowpack Is Good, But Dry, Cold, Windy Spring Wreaking Havoc With Crops
A lot of freshly harvested wheat bound for Portland, Oregon, could stack up on the Columbia River system soon because an old guy wire has snapped on the Snake River’s Lower Monumental Dam. Continue Reading Lower Monumental Dam Repairs On Snake River Happening During Peak Wheat-Barging Season
The latest harvest estimates say Washington ranchers will harvest nearly 153 million bushels of wheat and Oregon 44 million bushels. That’s around average for both states. A typical barge holds around 122,500 bushels of wheat — meaning 44 million bushels would be about 360 barges full of grain on the Snake and Columbia Rivers heading toward export terminals. Continue Reading Late Spring Rains Save Northwest Wheat Crop Yields, But Price Still Down