Repairs and upgrades on the LaGrange Lock and Dam on the Illinois River will continue until Oct. 13 — two weeks later than the original plan for completion.

Bill Bodine, Illinois Farm Bureau director of business and regulatory affairs, said flooding earlier in the spring affected work preparations at LaGrange.

“Hopefully, the impacts of the delay will be limited and minimize impact on grain shipments this fall,” Bodine told the RFD Radio Network.

Maintenance and repair work began July 1 on five Illinois River locks and dams. Peoria lock repairs should be done by Sept. 30, while work at Starved Rock, Marseilles and Dresden Island should be complete by the end of October.

In the meantime, the first phase of a project to deepen the lower Mississippi River from Venice, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico will soon begin with completion by fall of 2021.

The shipping channel will be deepened from 45 feet to 50 feet. The 256-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 60% of U.S. soybean exports, along with 59% of corn exports – by far the leading export region for both commodities.

The overall project is estimated to cost $245 million and will occur in three phases. Two phases will be cost-shared between the federal government (75%) and nonfederal sources (25%).

In July 2019, the United Soybean Board announced a $2 million allocation to help offset the planning, design and research costs of deepening the lower Mississippi River.

Research conducted by the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) concludes that shipping costs for soybeans from Mississippi Gulf export terminals would decline 13 cents per bushel if the lower Mississippi River is dredged to 50 feet. A deeper river will allow both larger ships and current ships to be loaded with more revenue-producing freight. Average vessel loads will increase from 2.4 million bushels of soybeans to 2.9 million bushels.

The research also identifies the impact on interior basis – the difference between the local price a farmer receives and the market value established by the Chicago Board of Trade. According to STC research, states enjoying positive or slightly negative basis will expand if the lower Mississippi River is dredged.

The STC research further estimates farmers in the 31 evaluated states, including Illinois, will annually receive an additional $461 million for their soybeans due to the dredging.