WASHINGTON, DC, US — Flour production in January-March 2020 set a record for the quarter at 107.272 million cwts, up 3.672 million, or 3.5%, from 103.6 million in the first quarter of 2019, according to data issued May 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

 Flour production was down 648,000 cwts, or 0.6%, from 107.92 million in October-December 2019.

At 107.272 million cwts, first-quarter flour production was up 1.6% from 105.612 million in the first quarter of 2018, the second highest for the quarter, and 2.5% over 104.705 million cwts in January-March 2017, the third.

The 24-hour flour production capacity totaled 1,614,050 cwts, down 33,781 cwts from 1,647,831 a year earlier. It was 1,649,750 cwts in the fourth. The high was 1,674,210 cwts in the third, and capacity has been reduced 60,160 cwts since then. Grind was 86.3% of six-day capacity, up from 85% in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 82.7% in the first quarter. It was the heaviest rate of grind for any quarter since 86.7% in July-September 2018. An increase in grind between the fourth and first quarters also is extraordinary.

Semolina production in the first quarter was 8.14 million cwts, up 235,000, or 3%, from 7.905 million in the first quarter of 2019. It was down 4.3% from 8.504 million in the fourth quarter.

Rye flour production in January-March totaled 242,000 cwts compared with 214,000 in the fourth quarter and 210,000 a year back.