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A Short History and Production Statistics of the Grain Industry for Railfans

In 2005, 99,462 carloads of grain moved to the Texas Gulf, 223,328 moved to the Pacific Northwest.
In 2004, 92,073 carloads of grain moved to the Texas Gulf, 209,625 moved to the Pacific Northwest.
In 2003, 83,007 carloads of grain moved to the Texas Gulf, 141,849 moved to the Pacific Northwest.
In 2002, 85,675 carloads of grain moved to the Texas Gulf, 113,857 moved to the Pacific Northwest.
In 2001, 81,822 carloads of grain moved to the Texas Gulf, 111,376 moved to the Pacific Northwest.

Missouri Pacific empty grain train at Saginaw, TX

Most of the covered hoppers ahead of the MP caboose are returning to western Kansas for grain loading.

Through December 18, 2003 the Pacific Northwest exported 8,578,000 metric tons of wheat, 5,280,000 tons of corn, and 5,114,000 tons of soybeans.
The Texas Gulf exported 6,701,000 tons of wheat, 746,000 tons of corn, and 103,000 tons of soybeans.
In 2002, the Pacific Northwest exported 9,128,000 metric tons of wheat, 3,994,000 tons of corn, and 2,870,000 tons of soybeans.
The Texas Gulf exported 5,875,000 tons of wheat, 266,000 tons of corn, and 373,000 tons of soybeans.

In 2005, 476,033 carloads of grain originated on the BNSF, 327,510 originated on the UP, and 27,618 originated on the KCS.
In 2004, 458,587 carloads of grain originated on the BNSF, 307,170 originated on the UP, and 27,459 originated on the KCS.
In 2003, 398,411 carloads of grain originated on the BNSF, 327,848 originated on the UP, and 23,295 originated on the KCS.
In 2002, 400,179 carloads of grain originated on the BNSF, 344,296 originated on the UP, and 27,161 originated on the KCS.

On January 2, 2006 the rate for wheat from Kansas City to Galveston, TX was $2,020 per car or $.61 per bushel (60lbs), from Minneapolis to Portland, OR was $3,963 per car or $1.19 per bushel, St Louis to Houston was $2,360 per car or $.71 per bushel.
The rate for corn from Minneapolis to Portland, OR was $3,130 per car or $.88 per bushel (56lbs)
The rate for soybeans from Minneapolis to Portland, OR was $3,610 per car or $1.08 per bushel (60lbs).
On December 1, 2003 the rate for wheat from Kansas City to Galveston, TX was $1,820 per car or $.55 per bushel (60lbs), from Minneapolis to Portland, OR was $4,148 per car or $1.24 per bushel, St Louis to Houston was $1,945 per car or $.58 per bushel, wheat Kansas City to Laredo, TX was $2,280 per car or $.68 per bushel.
The rate for corn from Minneapolis to Portland, OR was $3,130 per car or $.88 per bushel (56lbs), from Des Moines to Laredo was $2,864 per car or $.80 per bushel.
The rate for soybeans from Minneapolis to Portland, OR was $3,110 per car or $.93 per bushel (60lbs), from Des Moines to Laredo was $2,864 per car or $.86 per bushel.

Texas annually produces about 500 million bushels of grain, 147,000 hopper cars. Feed grains (corn, sorghum) comprise 72% of production. Approximately 759 million bushels received at Texas locations, 88% from out of state. Wheat Kansas (55%), Oklahoma (17%), Texas (15%) Colorado (5%)Corn Nebraska (44%), Iowa (13%), Kansas (11%), Illinois (9%)Sorghum Kansas (80%), Texas (12%), Nebraska (6%)Destinations Wheat Texas ports (83%), Ft. Worth (11%) Corn High Plains (32%), San Antonio (22%), Houston (21%), Ft. Worth (17%) Texas ports (44%), San Antonio (37%), High Plains (8%)

Both Texas and Nebraska now have more land in sorghum than in wheat. Most of the grain sorghum crop is used as stock feed.

On the northern Plains, barley and oats are major second crops, with most of the continent's barley crop coming from the Lake Agassiz Basin of North Dakota and Minnesota. Nearly all flax seed produced in North America also is grown in the northern Plains. Sunflowers, a source of the vegetable oil canola and important ingredients in many livestock feeds, are rapidly increasing in importance in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The agriculture of the Great Plains is large scale and machine intensive, dominated by a few crops, the most important of which is wheat. Winter wheat is planted in the fall. Before the winter dormant season sets in, the wheat stands several centimeters tall. Its major growth comes in the spring and early summer, when precipitation is at a maximum and before the onset of the desiccating winds of summer. It is harvested in late May and June. Today, winter wheat is grown across much of the United States, but its zone of concentration is the southern Plains from northern Texas to southern Nebraska.

Spring wheat--grown primarily from central South Dakota northward into Canada--is planted in early spring and harvested in late summer or fall. It is suited to areas of winters so severe that germinating winter wheat would be killed.

Most grasslands wheat is grown using dry farming techniques, without irrigation. The soil is plowed very deeply to break the sod and slow evaporation. Most visually obvious, especially in the northern Plains, is the widespread use of fallowing, where the land is plowed and tilled but not planted for a season to preserve moisture.

Beginning around June 1 with the winter wheat harvest in Texas, custom combining crews gradually follow the harvest northward. Unlike migrant farm laborers harvesting other crops, these people, often in large crews that use many combines and trucks, have traditionally been well paid agricultural workers. The farms in most of the "Wheat Belt" now exceed 400 hectares, which means that more wheat farmers can now afford their own combines. Still, probably one third of all Great Plains wheat is harvested by custom combining crews.

Joint ownership of a unit train loader in Colby, Kansas between Cargill and four local coops.

In a typical year Minnesota farmers produce about 70 million tons of agricultural commodities. This includes over 36 million tons (1.3 billion bushels) of grains and oilseeds. Some is used locally but 24 to 25 million tons (11.7 M tons of corn, 7.3 M tons of soybeans, 2.4 M tons of wheat) enters commercial channels and has to be transported significant distances to domestic users or export ports. Minnesota grain shipments (2.3M tons) 10.5% went to Duluth/Superior, (5.9M tons) 27.5 % went to barges at the Twin Cities, 3.8M tons 17.8% went to the Pacific Northwest, 1.6M tons 8.1% went to Chicago area flour mills and corn and soybean processors in Illinois and eastern states, 0.75M tons 3% went south to Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas feed lots or mills.

Use of U.S. barley in shochu, a traditional Japanese distilled alcoholic beverage, could boost U.S. exports by as much as 30,000 tons (1.47 million bushels) per year, according to the U.S. Grains Council. Shochu consumption in Japan has grown rapidly since 1995, and barley imports for shochu, which total 140,000 tons (more than 6.4 million bushels) in 2001.

Under an agreement facilitated by the corn checkoff-funded U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the Taiwanese company Wei Mon Industry Co. agreed to buy 40,000 metric tons of the corn based polymer PLA from Cargill-Dow LLC during 2003 and 2004.

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