WASHINGTON, DC, US — Third-quarter flour production in 2020 was the second highest on record for that quarter at 108,583,000 cwts, up 1,755,000, or 1.6%, from 106,828,000 a year ago, according to data issued Nov. 2 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the US Department of Agriculture. It was the largest for any quarter since 108,593,000 cwts in October-December 2017.

Production during the quarter was 6,533,000 cwts, or 6% greater, than 102,050,000 cwts in the second quarter when the coronavirus impacted output after first quarter production had soared to 107,718,000 in response to virus-inspired stockpiling. The record high for the third quarter was 109,017,000 cwts in 2007, and the largest flour production quarter ever was 110,332,000 in October-December 2013.

January-September flour production totaled 318,351,000 cwts, an increase of 3,994,000 cwts, or 1.3%, over the three-year low of 314,357,000 in the first three quarters of 2019 and down 802,000 cwts, or 0.3%, from a record 319,153,000 in 2018.

NASS data are now available for 25 consecutive quarters, or since July-September 2014, when NASS took over from the North American Millers’ Association.

US 24-hour capacity in July-September was 1,602,510 cwts, off 21,750 from 1,624,260 cwts in the second quarter and down 71,700 from a record 1,674,210 a year back. It was the lowest since the fourth 2017 at 1,619,601.

Flour mill operating rate in July-September was 88%, up from 81.6% in the second quarter and 82.9% a year ago. It was the highest for any quarter since October-December 2017 at 88.4%.

Wheat grind in the third quarter was 234,199,000 bushels, up 1% from 231,775,000 a year ago; it was up 6.8% over 219,310,000 bus in the second.

Millfeed output in July-September totaled 1,678,897 tons, gaining 1.2% from 1,659,494 a year back. Millfeed production was up 8% from 1,557,553 in April-June.

Semolina production in July-September totaled 8,304,000, up 11% from 7,501,000 in the third quarter of last year. It was down 9% from a record 9,155,000 cwts in April-June. January-September semolina production totaled a record 25,599,000 cwts, gaining 11% from 23,028,000 a year earlier. Output in the same three quarters of 2018 was 23,651,000 cwts, which was then the highest three-quarter number since the start of NASS data.

Rye flour production during the third quarter of 2020 was 210,000 cwts against 159,000 in the second and 218,000 a year ago.