WASHINGTON — A downward trend in U.S. flour production that began in 2018 continued unabated in the second quarter this year, based on data issued Aug. 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Output in the second quarter of 2019 totaled 103,929,000 cwts, down 1,375,000, or 1.3%, from 105,304,000 cwts a year ago. Production was up 0.3% from 103,600,000 in the first quarter of 2019. Output was 1,994,000, or 2.3%, smaller than the record second quarter of 105,923,000 in 2014.

NASS data are now available for 20 consecutive quarters, or five full years, since July-September 2014, when NASS took over from the North American Millers’ Association.

January-June flour output aggregated 207,529,000 cwts, a decrease of 1.6% from a record 210,916,000 in the first half of 2018. It was down 0.8% from 209,173,000 cwts in the first half of 2017.

The rolling four-quarter trend for flour production remained weak. The all-time high was 428,142,000 cwts set in the 12 months ended in June 2018, followed by 427,987,000 cwts in the year ended September 2018 and 426,871,000 cwts for calendar 2018. The rolling 12-month total slipped to 424,906,000 cwts in the period ended March 2019 and to 423,484,000 in the July 2018-June 2019 period.

U.S. 24-hour capacity in April-June was 1,646,760 cwts, down from the revised high of 1,647,831 in the first quarter but up from 1,642,731 a year back.

Flour mill operating rate in April-June was at a recent low at 82%, down from 82.7% in the first quarter and 83.3% in April-June 2018. The operating rate was the lowest since 78.7% recorded in April-June 2001, the lowest for any quarter in recent years although grind also was 81.3% in the first quarter of that year.

Wheat grind in the second quarter at 225,056,000 bus was up 0.8% from 223,350,000 in the first but down 0.7% from 226,627,000 a year ago. Peak grind for the second quarter was 228,045,000 bus in 1999. The overall high was 247,738,000 bus in the last quarter of 2000. January-June wheat grind aggregated 448,406,000 bus, losing 1.2% from 453,774,000 a year back.

April-June extraction was 77%, down from 77.3% in the first quarter and 77.4% a year ago.

Millfeed output in April-June totaled 1,618,622 tons, up 2.3% from 1,582,201 tons in the first quarter and up 1.5% from 1,594,864 a year ago. The second quarter all-time high was 1,770,686 tons in 2000, and the any quarter peak was 1,947,407 tons in the fourth quarter of the same year. Millfeed production in the first six months of 2019 aggregated 3,200,823 tons, almost unchanged from 3,201,433 a year ago.

Leading state and state groupings in second-quarter flour output again was Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin at 9,716,000 cwts, down 8.5% from the first and 5.6% from a year ago. In second was California, at 7,896,000 cwts, up 0.9% from the first and down 0.3% from a year back, when the state ranked third; Kansas was third at 7,121,000 cwts, up 7% from the first quarter and 4.2% over a year ago, when the state ranked fourth; Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington was fourth, at 7,115,000 cwts, down 2.8% from the first quarter and down 11% from a year ago, when the state grouping was second; Minnesota held at fifth, with 6,510,000 cwts of flour production, up 4.7% from the first quarter but down 1.4% from a year ago.

With respect to 24-hour milling capacity the leader again was Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, at 146,252 cwts, unchanged from the prior quarter and a year ago. It was followed by Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington at 125,787 cwts, unchanged from the revised first-quarter total but down from 133,787 a year ago.

Total U.S. capacity in the second quarter was up 4,029 cwts from a year ago. Leading in increases was Texas, gaining 10,000 cwts, followed by Missouri, 8,000. The sharpest decrease was Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington, 8,000; Maryland and Virginia, 2,500; Pennsylvania, 2,400 and California, 1,071.

The only capacity change between the first and second quarters was California, down 1,071 cwts.

For the April-June quarter the sharpest percentage rate of grind increase over a year ago was in Colorado and Oklahoma running 74.3%, against 72.1% in the first and 67.6% a year ago. It was followed by Kansas at 79%, against 74.8% in the first quarter and 75.8% a year ago. The sharpest decrease from a year ago was Texas at 84.9%, against 84% in the first quarter and 91.4% a year ago. Following was Missouri at 79.3%, against 85.4% in the first quarter and 85.1% a year ago; Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin at 86.3%, against 95.5% in the first quarter and 91.4% a year ago.

The highest rate of grind for the quarter again was Kentucky and Tennessee at 95.9%, against 95.7% in the first quarter and 98% a year back. The lowest was Minnesota at 70.3%, against 68.1% in the first quarter and 71.3% a year ago.

Flour ex-semolina in April-June aggregated 96,307,000 cwts, down 1.4% from 97,686,000 a year back. It was up 0.6% from 95,695,000 in the first quarter. The peak for second-quarter flour ex-semolina was 99,312,000 cwts in 2015. January-June production was 192,002,000 cwts, down 1.6% from the record 195,142,000 a year back.

Durum semolina production, included in the total flour output figures, in April-June totaled 7,622,000 cwts, compared with 7,618,000 a year ago, up 4,000, or 0.1%. It was down 3.6% from 7,905,000 in the first quarter. Semolina output was 8,180,000 cwts in April-June 2011, the final flour production report issued by the Bureau of the Census.

Semolina output in January-June aggregated 15,527,000 cwts, down from 15,774,000 in the same 2018 period.

Durum grind in the second quarter aggregated 16,017,000 bus, down from 15,757,000 a year ago. It was down 2.8% from 16,470,000 in the first. Grind in the first half was 32,487,000 bus, down 1.2% from 32,871,000 in the prior year. Daily 24-hour milling capacity for durum and semolina production was 131,330 cwts, unchanged from the first quarter and up from 123,330 a year ago.

Durum mills in April-June operated at 75.4% of 24-hour capacity, against 79.2% in the first quarter and 80.2% a year ago.

Rye flour production in the second quarter totaled 204,000 cwts, against 210,000 in the first quarter and 225,000 a year earlier. Rye grind in April-June was 414,000 bus, against 427,000 in the first quarter and 471,000 a year back. The daily 24-hour milling capacity for rye milling was 9,785 cwts, unchanged from the first quarter and a year earlier.

Flour production data before mid-2014 was gathered by Veris Consulting, Inc. on behalf of the North American Millers’ Association. These figures came from NAMA’s panel of the largest U.S. milling companies. The figures were subsequently interpolated by Milling & Baking News to estimate total U.S. flour production