Bitter cold impedes U.S. grain, hog shipments; threatens wheat
"While the ice is slowing things down, the river continues to move and products are still getting from Chicago to St. Louis and everywhere else in between," Fogarty said.
Spot cash premiums for corn barges delivered to the Gulf Coast climbed to the highest since early December as exporters scrambled for supplies to meet near term loading commitments.
Gulf exporters were also struggling to find enough near-term soymeal barges to meet the current strong pace of demand, with very few barges offered until late February.
Corn Basis Jumps
Bitter winter weather also slowed the movement of truck loads of grain around the Midwest, sending corn basis bids up by 1 to 3 cents a bushel at some ethanol plants and river elevators on Thursday morning.
Grain handlers reported some difficulty operating frozen equipment such as grain conveyor belts, but disruptions were minor compared to those during a more brutal blast of winter weather two weeks ago.
The early January polar vortex resulted in power outages and equipment failure at soy processing plants in Indiana and Ohio, and triggered the largest weekly drop in U.S. corn-ethanol production on record dating back to 2010.
This week's cold also had less impact on Midwest hog producers and pork processors, although some farmers delayed deliveries of animals to slaughter plants.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated Thursday's hog slaughter at 434,000 head, up from 423,000 head a week ago.
"I understand the weather hasn't had any major impact on our operations," said Worth Sparkman, spokesman for the country's largest meat processor Tyson Foods Inc.
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