WASHINGTON — Production of straight semolina and durum flour by U.S. mills in January-March totaled 8,208,000 cwts, up 4.4% from 7,859,000 in the first quarter of 2008, according to the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Semolina production in the first 2009 quarter also was up 4.3% from 7,867,000 in October-December 2008.

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

Production of durum semolina in January-March 2009 was the 16th largest for any quarter and ranked eighth for the first quarter alone.

Beginning in 2000, semolina output data are not fully comparable with prior years.

Grind of durum wheat in January-March 2009 totaled 17,931,000 bus, up 1.9% from 17,589,000 in the first quarter of 2008. It also was up 3.6% from 17,316,000 in the fourth quarter.

Based on these data, semolina extraction in January-March averaged 76.3%, up from 75.7% in October-December and from 74.5% in the first quarter of 2008.

In the current report, the Census Bureau lists the 24-hour plant capacity of U.S. durum mills at 134,000 cwts in the first quarter, unchanged from October-December and down from 135,000 in the first quarter of 2008. Census Bureau data suggest durum mills in January-March operated at 80.6% of six-day capacity, up from 76.2% in October-December and 75.6% in the first quarter of 2008.