Stable describes current durum prices, market

2012-10-07T03:30:00Z Stable describes current durum prices, marketBy MARK CONLON, Editor Farm and Ranch Guide
October 07, 2012 3:30 am  • 

There hasn’t been much in terms of new news in the durum market, and that’s kept the prices and the market fairly stable as September came to an end.

Most cash durum bids are in the $8 range, although there are a few elevators with prices around $7.75. Overall, however, prices are averaging about $8.

“Really, in comparison with what we’ve seen happen in other commodities, durum is really holding its own,” said Erica Olson, marketing specialist with the North Dakota Wheat Commission. “At least we’re not seeing them drop, but they are still at a discount to spring wheat prices.”

The durum harvest is complete in this region and now everyone is waiting for the final quality analysis to come out.

“Overall, the northern durum crop quality appears to be fairly good, although there are a few areas where we saw color loss and damage to the crop,” Olson said. “However, at this time it’s difficult to say how widespread this is and how it will affect the overall quality.

“In the last report we saw it looks like protein, test weight and thousand kernel weights will be higher than last year, and that damage levels will be lower,” she added. “However, we are probably looking at a lower vitreous kernel count than last year, and we don’t know what the milling and pasta qualities are at this point.”

In the Small Grains Summary report released Sept. 28, U.S. durum production was lowered by 4 million bushels to 82 million bushels. That’s still a significant increase over last year, but the final planted acreage number came in lower for Montana and North Dakota and the yield was lowered from 40.5 bushels per acre in previous reports to 39 bushels per acre this month.

The market has also been watching progress of the Canadian durum harvest which is getting close to wrapping up. Currently harvest is 94 percent complete in Saskatchewan and as of last week the Alberta harvest was 83 percent complete.

Once the Canadian harvest is complete the market will be waiting to assess the overall quality of the North American durum crop.

Looking at U.S. durum exports, Olson noted a particularly good week for sales.

“We actually saw very good export sales for durum,” she said. “Sales totaled just under two million bushels with big sales to Algeria and Italy.

“It was good to see some new business to Algeria because we had been expecting sales to increase to that region. However, we were hoping to see some business from Morocco since they had a smaller crop this year, but they’ve been primarily buying from European countries.”

With those recent sales, the total has now reached 11.2 million bushels which is about the same as last year’s pace.

“The U.S. is still down in terms of exports to Europe, but we could possibly see them increase with some of the quality issues they’ve had,” she said. “On the other hand our exports are actually up quite a bit to Central and South America and that’s due in large part to almost a doubling of exports to Venezuela.”

The next thing on the agenda for the market to watch will be U.S. desert durum planting, which that doesn’t get started until December.

“It will be interesting to see what prices go out for contracts, and if they’ll be competitive enough to maintain or increase durum acres there, Olson said.

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