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WMR-U.S. durum acres fall sharply

By: Jim Peterson
Posted: Jun 28 2019

The March survey of producers indicated U.S. durum acres could fall to 1.4 million acres, down 31 percent from last year and the lowest level since 2013. The decline was not unanticipated as durum values were below 14% protein HRS in traditional growing areas for much of 2018 and into early 2019. Little price response was shown in the durum market following the end of March report to incentivize additional acres. 

Both North Dakota and Montana producers indicated a 31 percent decline in anticipated acres. North Dakota could fall to 750,000 which would be the lowest since 2011, and Montana could fall to 580,000 which would be the lowest since 2014.  Desert Durum acres in California and Arizona were estimated at less than 100,000 and the fourth straight year of declines.
Updated durum acre estimates will be released on June 28, and most analysts expect a slightly higher level than shown in the March survey, but still well below the past two years.  Durum values were unchanged to slightly lower through March and May, but in many traditional growing areas, a nearly $.50 per bushel drop in HRS, placed durum back at a slight premium during the planting period. This may have pulled a few acres back to durum.

Ample old crop inventories in both the U.S. and Canada are bearish for the market currently, but if significant acre cuts are confirmed in the June surveys for both the U.S. and Canada, more focus will be placed on 2019 growing season weather.  For key durum regions in both countries, lack of rain has been the prevailing concern, in stark contrast to corn, winter wheat and some spring wheat regions.  

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