A quick glance at Tacoma's Commencement Bay Wednesday was ample evidence that experts' predictions for grain exports' doubling in 2014 are coming true.
Four bulk carriers ships were anchored in Commencement Bay near the Port of Tacoma, Point Ruston and Vashon Island awaiting a berth at the port's Temco grain export terminal on Schuster Parkway.
Another ship, the MV Endeavor, was loading grain at the Temco wharf.
The United States Department of Agriculture is predicting grain exports shipments, particularly corn, will double in 2014. The department said lower prices for corn are stimulating demand. Much of that additional demand will be fulfilled from the United States.
This year's upswing follows a steep fall in 2013. At the Port of Tacoma, grain export volumes dropped by 43 percent last year as a record drought hit Midwestern farmers in 2012, cutting the amount of grain available for export last year.
In addition to the grain carriers, the port was unusually busy at midweek with nine ships in port at midday Wednesday. Those included several containerships, an auto carrier, a roll-on-roll-off trailer ship and a log ship.
While grain shipments were down in 2013 in Tacoma, most other major categories of cargo rose. Container volumes were up 10.5 percent. Auto imports jumped by 8.2 percent. Gypsum shipments increased by 7.9 percent, and log exports rose by 17.2 percent.
Total vessel calls hit 1,278 last year, up 15.6 percent.