WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Flour production in January-March 2019 was 103,647,000 cwts, down 1,965,000 cwts, or 1.9%, from 105,612,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2018, according to data issued May 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Flour production for the first quarter of 103,647,000 cwts was the lowest for the quarter since 103,116,000 in 2015. It compared with 103,909,000 cwts in 2016.

Daily 24-hour flour milling production capacity in the first quarter was estimated by the USDA at a record 1,650,331 cwts, up 8,700 cwts from 1,641,631 cwts a year back. It was up 7,000 cwts from 1,642,331 cwts in the fourth quarter. Incidentally, the fourth-quarter capacity figure was the only 2018 revision reported by NASS. October-December capacity in the March 1 report was put at 1,650,331 cwts, the current quarter’s number.

Mills during the first quarter of 2019 operated at 82.6% daily milling capacity, down from 85.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 83.6% in the first quarter of 2018. It was the lowest for any quarter since April-June 2001 at 78.7%. It was the lowest first quarter since that same year when January-March was 81.3%.

Semolina production in the first quarter was 7,903,000 cwts, down 253,000 cwts, or 3.1%, from 8,156,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2018.