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Basis tanks on rising barge costs
Kevin McNew, Cash Grain
Both corn and soybean basis levels were lower this week as rising barge rates and rising futures prices kept cash basis on the defensive. Over the last week, barge rates were up 10 to 12 cents a bushel across the U.S. river system.
In the corn market, U.S. average basis levels were off by 3 cents a bushel, but along river markets the impact was much greater. Gulf basis was off 9 cents for the week which kept most river markets moving lower by 10 or more cents. Outside of the river area, markets in the far Western Cornbelt and Plains, along with markets in the Eastern Cornbelt were mostly steady.
For soybeans, U.S. average basis was off 12 cents for the week, as barge rates and weaker basis levels from end users put strain on the markets. Basis levels in the Western Cornbelt were especially weak as they come off the lofty levels they approached last month due to lack of bean deliveries in Nebraska and Iowa.
Barge rates should stabilize this week and may give up some of their gains as weaker export basis levels may slow shipments. However, seasonality is not in favor of large gains in basis, especially in soybeans where there is a significant price inversion built into the futures market. With early planting this past spring, it seems unlikely end users will need to scramble in early fall to get their needs met.