CHICAGO, June 30 (Reuters) - Flooding on the Mississippi River has closed the St. Louis harbor to barge traffic, halting commercial traffic at an important junction of several major waterways, said the U.S. Coast Guard.
On Saturday, the Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River from mile marker 174 to 189, which includes the harbor. Vessels with two or fewer barges can travel during daylight hours. There was no estimate on when the harbor would reopen.
In addition, the Illinois River is closed from mile marker 0 to 24.
The upper Mississippi River has been closed to barge traffic since locks began shutting down on June 12, which has disrupted shipments of grain, coal and petroleum products.
The Missouri and Illinois rivers flow into the Mississippi River in the St. Louis area, making it a key point for barge traffic. The Mississippi River is the main channel for grain flowing from production areas in the Midwest to the export terminals at the Gulf. Between 55 and 65 percent of all U.S. corn, soybean and wheat exports leave from the Gulf.
The worst U.S. Midwest flooding in 15 years has begun to ebb, but floods have destroyed millions of acres of corn and soybeans, sending corn prices to record highs on fears of a small crop from the world’s top grain exporter. [ID:nN12340023] (Editing by John Picinich)