WASHINGTON — Underscoring irregular changes of recent years, production of straight semolina and durum flour by U.S. mills in 2009 aggregated 31,496,000 cwts, up 585,000 cwts, or 1.9%, from 30,911,000 in 2008. The latter year marked a decrease to the smallest output since 30,838,000 in 2005, according to the Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Production in 2009 also was up 4,537,000 cwts, or 16.8%, from the recent low of 26,959,000 in 2004. Yet, it was 1,434,000 cwts, or 4.4%, below record output of 32,930,000 cwts in 2001.

Statistics on durum semolina issued since 2000 are not strictly comparable with earlier years because of a change in the data.

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

At 31,496,000 cwts, semolina and durum flour output in 2009 was the 10th largest in a series dating back to 1966.

The increase of 585,000 cwts in 2009 came on the heels of a decrease of 1,893,000 in 2008 following three years of increases that started with a gain of 3,879,000 cwts in 2005 following a five-year low in 2004 and continuing with increases of 1,110,000 in 2006 and a gain of 856,000 in 2007. Previously, there were three successive annual reductions starting with 519,000 in 2002 followed by 2,720,000 in 2003 and 2,732,000 in 2004. Output in 2001 was up 1,181,000 cwts. Comparing old and new numbers for 2000 shows a gain of 5,663,000 in output.

By quarters in 2009, output ranged between a high of 8,192,000 cwts in January-March and a low of 7,373,000 in October-December, while the variation in 2008 was between a high of 7,867,000 in the fourth quarter and a low of 7,549,000 in the third.

Durum wheat grind in 2009 totaled 70,557,000 bus, up 3.4% from 68,269,000 in 2008.

By quarters, 2009 grind ranged from 17,985,000 bus in January-March to 17,238,000 in January-March, while the 2008 variation was between 17,589,000 in the first and 16,539,000 in the third.

Based on these statistics, the weighted average extraction rate for semolina in 2009 was 74.4%, compared with 75.5% in 2008, 72.8% in 2007, 72.3% in 2006 and 75.8% in 2005.

Output of straight semolina and durum flour in October-December 2009 totaled 7,373,000 cwts, down 6.3% from 7,867,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008. It was down 7.2% from 7,942,000 in July-September.

October-December durum grind was 17,238,000 bus, down 0.5% from 17,316,000 in the same quarter of 2008. The fourth quarter was down 2.3% from 17,639,000 in July-September.

Based on these statistics, the extraction rate for October-December was 71.3%, against 75% in July-September and 75.7% in October-December 2008.