Poor durum premiums in North Dakota may dissuade acres

Durum bids in North Dakota have lost their premium over other spring wheat in recent weeks, which will likely lower seeding intentions for the crop, according to an official with the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

Durum prices are fairly close to spring wheat values right now, and the lack of a significant premium will likely dissuade some growers from seeding the pasta-making crop, said Erica Olson, marketing specialist with the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

Current durum bids in the US$7.75 per bushel area were in line with spring wheat pricing, "which doesn’t help durum acreage at all," she said.

"It will be tough for durum to gain acreage this year, because of the price issue… and because some producers are turning away from durum due to the risk (of growing it)," said Olson, noting durum acreage in the state would likely be steady or lower compared to 2012.

Durum stocks in the U.S. and worldwide are "fairly good," according to Olson. She said U.S. exports were picking up, but there was no real big demand to boost prices.

While durum may be lacking a premium over spring wheat, wheat acres in general are facing competition from soybeans and corn in North Dakota, said Olson.

Wheat area was going down in the eastern part of the state, but holding steady in the west, she said. Snow cover was described as good, but if producers are worried about another dry year, spring wheat and durum would see renewed interest.

North Dakota farmers seeded 1.35 million acres of durum in 2012 and 5.35 million acres of other spring wheat, according to USDA data.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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