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The desert durum crop harvest was under way. Combining of California durum in the state’s Imperial Valley began around May 17, according to the California Wheat Commission. Yields were strong, and quality was very good with test weight running between 64 and 65 lbs per bu and protein ranging from 12% to 13%. The harvest was expected to last between six and seven weeks. Recent cool weather might extend the harvest beyond a normal finish date. The Arizona harvest was expected to begin in about a week with a cool spring delaying its start. Arizona durum was 38% mature on May 16 compared with 15% a week earlier and 24% as the recent five-year average for the date, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With ample supplies of old crop durum available across the U.S. northern Plains and Canada, desert durum mostly was expected to be used by regional mills with most of the surplus destined for export and feed channels. It was projected about 40% of the desert durum crop will be exported this year.

The U.S.D.A. projected the 2010 desert durum crop (Arizona-California) at 18,925,000 bus, down 10,475,000 bus, or 37%, from 29,400,000 bus in 2009.

While the first trucklots of new crop hard winter wheat were delivered to export terminals at the Gulf a couple of weeks ago, harvest progress more recently was slowed by rain. Individual southern Texas growers contacted mills indicating they had new crop in the bin and for sale, but most conversations between millers and growers concerned disposition of wheat yet to be combined. Two years ago, the southern Texas harvest was well under way by mid-May. This year, significant harvest progress wasn’t expected until around June 1.