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WMR - Survey Indicates a Strong Increase in North Dakota Durum Acres

By: Jim Peterson
Posted: Apr 27 2023

The early March USDA survey of wheat producers across the region shows the potential for a 24% increase in durum plantings in North Dakota this year.  Estimated at 980,000 acres  it would be up nearly 200,000 acres from last year, and the highest level since 1.1 million were planted in 2018.  Factors supportive of the increase are higher insurance coverage levels for durum, and widening price spreads between durum and hard red spring at the time of the survey.  While  an increase was anticipated, a 24% increase seems lofty, according to many market observers, as crop rotation constraints, strong interest in canola in the durum region, and recent strength in HRS prices will likely temper gains.
Montana producers only indicated a 3% increase over 2022 durum acres, up to 730,000 or a 20,000 acre increase.  In Montana, durum acres are largely concentrated  in a couple counties in the northeast part of the state, which may have limited the level of expansion, relative to North Dakota.  Barley, peas and hay crops were all estimated higher in the survey across Montana, while winter wheat and spring wheat were lower.  Odds favor a slightly higher level of durum acres in Montana than what the initial March survey showed.

Total U.S. durum acres are projected up 9% from 2022, at 1.78 million.   Gains in Montana and North Dakota were partially offset by a nearly 50% decrease in Desert Durum acres in California and Arizona.  Actual planting conditions and timing will play a big role in final U.S. durum plantings in 2023, but based on the initial survey, it looks like the U.S. is likely to have its largest acreage base in the last five years.

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