The unofficial end of the Upper Mississippi River navigation season took place over Thanksgiving weekend, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began closing four locks and dams at the beginning of November for routine winter maintenance. Passages in Minnesota freeze in the winter, stopping all barge traffic. While expected, the Mississippi River continues to be a pain point for exports due to drought-induced low water levels.

Tropical Storm Nicole temporarily brought relief to some drier parts of the river, as well as scattered showers that moved through the Lower Mississippi River area on November 28. However, forecasts continue to inspire pessimism. Tow size restrictions will likely remain at 25 barges, as experts say a true water level fix will require 40 to 60 days of “normal” precipitation to provide full recovery.

Read more on ag transportation on the Mississippi River here.