The extremely dry conditions during the growing season have caused both corn and soybeans to be ready for harvest at the same time, and that’s impacting the ability of Mississippi River barges to keep up with the quick pace. Bill Skayhill farms a little more than 200 acres near Peosta, and is experiencing delays with his trucker who’s having to wait in line as long as two hours to unload.

“They’re filling contracts that start at the end of October and all the semis are lined up down at the river, that’s what he told me when he brought the empty one back,” Skayhill said. The harvests of corn and beans generally have enough time between them to not cause such a strain on the transport system.

Now Skayhill and others are caught up in the process of waiting to get their truckloads of crops into the system. “Hopefully he’ll be able to get more in there,” Skayhill says. The problem is on the land side, not the river. The barge traffic is not affected by low water levels, because a system of locks and dams allows officials to control water depth.

That allows fully loaded barges and towboats to travel smoothly to ports farther south where the grain is transferred to other facilities.