Flour production
Flour production in the first three quarters of 2017 totaled a record 317,565,000 cwts.

WASHINGTON — Flour production in the first three quarters of 2017 totaled a record 317,565,000 cwts, up 1,942,000 cwts, or 0.6%, from 315,623,000 cwts a year earlier, according to data issued Nov. 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The year-to-date production figure was 0.3% larger than the previous nine-month record aggregate of 316,574,000 in 2014, followed by 316,099,000 in 2015. The 2016 total was fourth.

Third-quarter production in 2017 was 108,392,000 cwts, up 501,000 cwts, or 0.5%, from 107,891,000 cwts in July-September 2017. Output was 3.8% over 104,468,000 cwts in the second quarter. The record high for the third quarter was 109,017,000 cwts in 2007, and the largest flour production quarter ever was 110,332,000 cwts in October-December 2013.

NASS data are now available for 13 consecutive quarters, or since July-September 2014, when NASS took over from the North American Millers’ Association.

Although January-September flour output was a record, a record for the full year is not assured. Production in the most recent 12 months, October 2016-September 2017, aggregated 425,645,000 cwts, which is larger than the calendar year record for flour production of 424,950,000 cwts set in 2014 and is close to the 12-month high for NASS data. That record was 425,693,000 cwts, produced by mills in the 12 months ended March 2016.

U.S. 24-hour flour milling capacity in July-September was 1,620,000 cwts, unchanged from the second quarter and a year back. It was virtually unchanged from the record 1,621,000 in April-June 2015.

Flour mill operating rate in July-September was 86.9% of six-day capacity, up from 83.8% in the second quarter and 86.5% a year ago. Average grind in January-September was 85.3%, against 84.5% a year back.

Wheat grind in the third quarter was 234,279,000 bus, up 0.4% from 233,391,000 a year ago. Wheat grind was up 4.4% over 224,487,000 bus in the second quarter. The quarterly high for wheat grind was 244,685,000 bus in the last quarter of 2000. Wheat grind for January-September aggregated 682,730,000 bus, up 0.1% from 681,993,000 bus in the prior year.

The extraction rate for July-September averaged 77.1%, down from 77.6% in the second quarter but up slightly from 77% a year ago. In January-September, the average was 77.5%, up from 77.1% in the same period of 2016.

Millfeed output in July-September totaled 1,641,290 tons, down 2.7% from 1,687,374 tons a year back. Millfeed production rose 4% from 1,578,569 tons in April-June. The millfeed record was 1,902,206 in October-December 2000. January-September millfeed output, however, totaled 4,806,167 tons, down 1.9% from 4,897,256 tons in this period in 2016.

Semolina production in July-September totaled 7,788,000 cwts, up 0.7% from 7,737,000 cwts in the third quarter of last year. It was 1.7% larger than 7,656,000 cwts milled in April-June. The record for the third quarter was 8,510,000 cwts in 2010. The high for any quarter was 8,770,000 cwts back in January-March 1994.

January-September semolina production totaled 23,410,000 cwts, up 2.7% from 22,784,000 cwts a year earlier. The indicated all-time nine-month high was 24,992,000 cwts in 2011, but some of the data in that latter year were questionable. Production in January-September 2007 was 24,602,000 cwts. Durum grind in the third quarter aggregated 16,179,000 bus, down 0.8% from 16,309,000 bus a year ago.  It was up 1.1% from 15,997,000 bus in April-June. January-September grind came to 48,953,000 bus, up 1% from 48,470,000 bus a year back.

Leading state and state groupings in third-quarter flour output was Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin turning out 10,291,000 cwts, down 0.6% from a year back. Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington was second at 8,098,000 cwts, up 3%.

Three states recorded substantial flour production increases. California, third largest, at 8,029,000 cwts, jumped 13.1%; North Dakota, at 6,364,000 cwts, gained 10.6%; and Missouri, at 6,168,000, also was up 10.6%. On the other hand, Ohio, at 5,902,000 cwts, was down 15.4%.

Two states/state groupings in the third quarter topped 100% of six-day capacity. Kentucky and Tennessee turned out 4,068,000 cwts in the quarter, up 1% from a year earlier and operating at 100.3% of six-day capacity, and Michigan produced 3,020,000 cwts, down 0.6% but running at 100.1%. At the other end, Kansas produced 7,007,000 cwts, up 1.1% from July-September 2016, but operating at 78.4% of capacity, followed by Minnesota 7,037,000 cwts, down 1%, operating at 79.4%; and Maryland and Virginia, 3,200,000 cwts, down 5.1%, and running at 79.6%.

In the quarter the most improved grind was to be found in California, rising to 86.4% against 76.4% a year ago. At the other extreme Ohio tumbled to 88.4% from 104.5% a year back.

Also in the Nov. 1 report NASS, revised second-quarter flour output upward by 65,000 cwts. The largest change was North Dakota, up 113,000 cwts; followed by Kansas, up 2,000 cwts; and Maryland and Virginia, 1,000. Pennsylvania was down 34,000 cwts; Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington, down 14,000; and Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, down 3,000 cwts.   Capacity changes in the report even for the third quarter were insignificant.

Rye flour production in the third quarter totaled 206,000 cwts, against 215,000 cwts in the second and 233,000 cwts a year earlier. Rye grind in July-September was 406,000 bus, against 443,000 bus in the second and 474,000 bus a year back. The daily 24-hour milling capacity for rye milling was 9,385 cwts, unchanged from the second and a year earlier.