Page header image of an ore ship on Lake Superior

Harvest season grain gains lift tonnage

November 16, 2023

DULUTH, Minn. — Boosted by an 18-month high for grain shipments, total maritime tonnage through the Port of Duluth-Superior climbed 3.9% ahead of last season’s pace through Oct. 31, 2023.

More than 141,000 short tons of grain transited the port in October, as fall harvest season ramped up throughout the Upper Midwest. Almost 92,000 ST sailed for export, including more than 66,000 ST of durum wheat.

Iron ore, the port’s king cargo, also moved briskly in October, topping 2.2 million ST for the month and 16.5 million ST for the season. That season-to-date total exceeded the 2022 pace by 15%.

“Despite the eight-day Seaway strike, October tonnage topped the September total and set the stage for what should be a strong finish to the navigation season,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “The Seaway Management Corporation set its latest closing date ever – January 5 – so if the weather and markets cooperate, we could see some later-than-usual oceangoing ships mingling with the lakers, which aim to continue sailing until the Soo Locks close for the winter on January 15.”


More than 700 vessels and 30 million short tons of cargo move through the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, making it the Great Lakes’ largest tonnage port and one of the nation’s top 20. The port supports more than 7,000 jobs and contributes $1.3 billion in business revenue to the regional economy. Learn more at