WASHINGTON — Flour production in 11 states and state-groups in the first quarter of 2009 increased from January-March 2008, while 10 recorded decreases, according to the Census Bureau in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Presenting a "sea change" in the ranking of geographical entities in the first quarter, the January-March flour output leader was Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, followed in order by California, Minnesota, Ohio and Kansas. Other ranking areas were New York and New Jersey, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Nebraska and Iowa. A year ago, for only the second time, Kansas had not been the leading producer of flour, replaced by the grouping of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Two years ago for a brief time, California and Hawaii (California currently is reported alone) was ahead of Kansas.

The North American Millers’ Association provides funding to the Census Bureau in support of the compilations of these statistics.

Decreases for states/groupings

Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin as well as California and especially Kansas registered decreases in production from a year ago, while Minnesota and Ohio were up. Among other ranking areas, New York and New Jersey along with Missouri were down, Pennsylvania along with Nebraska and Iowa recorded gains.

Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin in the first quarter led in state and grouping totals at 7,882,000 cwts, down 3.4% from 8,157,000 in January-March 2008. It accounted for 7.8% of U.S. production, against 8% a year ago.

In second place, California mills produced 7,677,000 cwts, down 0.8% from 7,741,000 a year back. It accounted for 7.6% of the aggregate, the same as a year ago.

Third in rank was Minnesota at 7,286,000 cwts, up 3.5% from 7,041,000 in the first quarter of 2008. The state produced 7.3% of the U.S. total, up from 6.9% a year earlier.

Ohio came in fourth at 6,728,000 cwts, up 9.4% from 6,151,000 in January-March 2008. This represented 6.7% of the national aggregate, up from 6.1% a year back.

Kansas in fifth place turned out 6,623,000 cwts, down 17.6% from 8,040,000 in January-March 2008. It accounted for 6.6% of the national total, down from 7.9% a year back.

By regions Central states mills in the first quarter led with output of 22,697,000 cwts, or 22.6% of the U.S. total, up 0.2% from 22,653,000, or 22.3% a year ago.

Hard winter mills came in at 19,381,000, or 19.3%, down 4%, from 20,192,000, or 19.9%, in the first quarter of 2008.

Southern states totaled 17,503,000, or 17.4%, up 0.8% from 17,366,000, or 17.1%, a year back.

Spring wheat states produced 14,689,000 cwts, or 14.6%, up 2.2% from 14,366,000, or 14.2%, in the first quarter of 2008.

Eastern mills in the first quarter of 2009 produced 12,240,000 cwts, or 12.2%, down 1.4% from 12,420,000, or 12.3%, a year ago.

Western units turned out 11,993,000 cwts, or 11.9%, down 1.8% from 12,213,000, or 12%, a year ago.

Flour output down 0.9% in Q1

U.S. flour production in the first quarter of 2009 totaled 100,486,000 cwts, down 0.9% from 101,382,000 in the first quarter of 2008.

Mills in all the states for which the Census Bureau does not issue separate reports — to avoid disclosure of individual company data — produced in January-March 2009 a total of 1,983,000 cwts, down 8.7% from 2,172,000 a year back. As a result of recent revisions, "all other" now includes only Arizona, Hawaii, Maine and Massachusetts.

Nebraska and Iowa output climbs

Leading in first-quarter output increases from a year ago was Nebraska and Iowa, up 14.1%, followed by Virginia and Maryland, up 13.9%; Alabama and Louisiana, up 11.9%; Ohio, up 9.4%; Washington and Oregon, up 4.1%; Minnesota, up 3.5%; Pennsylvania, up 3.1%; Texas, up 2.8%; Montana and Idaho, up 2.7%; and North Dakota as well as North Carolina, both up 0.1%.

The sharpest output decrease by a wide margin was in Kansas, down 17.6%, followed by Utah, down 9.6%; Tennessee and Kentucky, down 8.7%; Georgia, Florida and South Carolina as well as New York and New Jersey, both were down 5.1%; Michigan, down 3.7%; Oklahoma and Colorado, down 3.5%; Illinois, India and Wisconsin, down 3.4%; Missouri, down 2.9% and California, down 0.8%.

Daily capacity mostly flat

National daily flour milling capacity in the first quarter, at 1,531,189 cwts, was up 500 from the fourth-quarter 2008 benchmark levels at 1,530,689. California was up 1,500 and Missouri was down 1,000.