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Durum Wheat Production

Durum ProductionOver 67% of durum wheat {Triticum turgidum L. var. durum (Desf.)} hectares in the United States are located in North Dakota where the annual durum wheat production from 2008 to 2010 averaged 1.6 million metric tons at an average annual value of $464 million. The average annual production during this period for the entire United States was 2.6 million metric tons. Durum wheat production in North Dakota accounts for about 60% of the total U.S. production. The remaining 40% of durum wheat production occurs in Arizona, California, Minnesota, Montana, and South Dakota.  Durum wheat is second to hard red spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), in annual value of production in North Dakota.  Due to the importance of durum wheat for the state, the durum plant breeding and genetics program was created in 1929 and is the only public research project that develops and releases durum wheat cultivars in the United States. Cultivars released from North Dakota’s breeding program are grown on over 93% of durum hectares in North Dakota and surrounding states. The remaining 7% of the hectares are planted with cultivars released by breeding programs in Canada and the private companies.

The domestic use of durum wheat is almost entirely for pasta products with annual consumption at approximately 8.8 kg per capita.  Strong demand for excellent quality durum wheat raw material will persist in the domestic and export markets. Pasta manufacturers want strong gluten cultivars to insure desired quality in the finished product, even when overcooked. Durum wheat produced in North Dakota has the reputation for superior quality, especially for semolina color and gluten strength. High quality standards must be maintained to insure market stability. The price differential for durum wheat relative to hard red spring wheat fluctuates depending on the durum supply. To remain economically competitive, new durum cultivars must be higher yielding or at least equal to hard red wheat spring cultivars.


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