Durum is the hardest of all wheats with high protein content, yellow endosperm, white bran. Used to make pasta, couscous and some Mediterranean breads.

210 Samples Collected from fields, farm bins and local elevators by the National Agricultural Statistics Service

The Durum Quality Lab, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, conducted the quality analyses.

Official grade, test weight, vitreous kernel, thousand kernel weight, protein and falling number were determined on each sample. The remaining tests were conducted on 6 composite samples categorized by growing region for Northern Durum. Northern Durum production area is highlighted on the map on page 28. The methods are described in the Analysis Methods section of this blog.


Northen Durum Grade Distribution


Durum production in the U.S. Northern Plains is down by more than 50% from 2016 due to a small decline in acreage and sharply lower yields caused by severe drought. Planting began in the third week of April, progressed rapidly due to warm conditions and few rain delays, and was finished by the end of May.

Overly dry soil conditions were an increasing concern throughout the growing season. Emergence was slow in areas due to lack of moisture, and yield potential across the region was quite low with some acres abandoned. The dry conditions pushed crop development ahead of normal, but kept disease pressures minimal.

Harvest began in early August, moved quickly due to dry conditions and lower yields, and finished by late September. Scattered rain delays toward the end of harvest affected the color of a portion of the crop.

Durum Production


The 2017 Northern durum crop average grade is U.S. No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD). However, a larger portion of the samples than in 2016 graded U.S. No. 1 or 2 Amber Durum due to color loss in some areas. Average test weight of 60.9 lb/bu (79.4 kg/hl) is slightly below last year. 

Dry conditions allowed very little disease pressure and kept kernel damage below previous years at only 0.1%. The average total defects of 1.2% is slightly higher due to higher shrunken and broken kernel values. 

Average vitreous kernel content (HVAC) is 88%, with 45% of samples having levels of 90% or higher. A larger portion of the samples (25% versus 11% last year) fall into the 60% to 74% HVAC range, reflecting the impact of rain on some of the crop.

Hot, dry conditions pushed protein levels higher, with the 2017 regional average at 14.5% (12% moisture basis). Average thousand kernel weight is 38.4 g, compared to 40 g in 2016; the largest declines were in extremely dry areas of Montana and southwest North Dakota. 

Higher-than-average dockage of 1.1% resulted from challenging threshing conditions with heavier-than-normal weed growth in thin crops. Due to limited disease pressure, DON is barely detectible in this year’s crop. Moisture of 11.3% reflects mostly dry harvest conditions, and average falling number of 380 sec represents a mostly sound crop.

Test weight, Hectoliter wheat, Vitreous kernels, Protein (12% mb), 1000 kernel weight and Falling Number of Northern Durum Distributions


The Buhler laboratory mill average total extraction is 72.2%, slightly lower than last year, but above the 5-year average. Semolina extraction of 68.5%, however, is higher than last year and the 5-year average. 

The decline in total extraction is related to overall smaller kernel size, while the dry harvest conditions promoted kernel hardness and high HVAC, for improved semolina extraction. The milled product ash is 0.69%, compared to 0.71% in 2016, and the speck count is lower. 

Wet gluten of 34.5% is higher than last year and similar to the 5-year average. The average gluten index of 86.3% is notably higher than last year’s 60.8%. This reflects a combination of varietal changes and conducive growing conditions.

Semolina properties are quite similar to last year. The b* (yellow) color score of 29.4 is slightly lower than 2016 and similar to the 5-year average. Mixing properties are stronger than last year and the 5-year average. 

Evaluation of the cooked spaghetti shows lower cooking loss than last year and higher cooked firmness. Pasta color scores are also improved this year, with an average color score for the region of 9.


Buyers will be pleased with this year’s excellent grading crop boasting strong protein levels, overall high vitreous kernel levels, higher semolina extraction and improved mixing and pasta quality characteristics. With reduced supply and isolated areas with lower vitreous kernel levels, lighter thousand kernel weights and some DON detections, buyers should always remain diligent in their contract specifications.


17 Samples Collected by a Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) licensed inspection agency or submitted by handlers to a licensed agency.

California Wheat Commission Laboratory conducted the quality analyses. Milling of Desert Durum® samples is done by the Durum Quality Lab, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND.

All tests were conducted on each sample. Production-weighted results are reported. The Desert Durum® production area is highlighted on the map on page 28. The methods are described in the Analysis Methods section of this booklet.

Desert Durum® is a registered certification mark of the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council and the California Wheat Commission, which authorize its use only to designate durum grown under irrigation in the desert valleys and lowlands of Arizona and California.

Desert Durum® can be produced and delivered “identity preserved” to domestic and export markets, which allows customers to purchase grain with quality traits specific to their processing needs. Annual requirements can be pre-contracted with grain merchandisers ahead of the fall-winter planting season for harvest in late May through early July. Varietal identity is maintained by experienced growers planting certified seed and merchandisers who store and ship according to customers’ preferred delivery schedules.

2017 Desert Durum® production acreage was less than in 2016, largely due to lower prices available at planting time. Yields were average, and quality was uniformly good.


In 2017, the average grade is U.S. No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD). Test weight averages 62.2 lb/bu (81.0 kg/hl). The average vitreous kernel content (HVAC) is 97.6%, a high average typical of Desert Durum®. Average damaged kernels are 0.2% and total defects are 1%. Low moisture content is characteristic of Desert Durum®; this year’s average is 6.6%. Protein content averages 13.5% (12% mb).


Semolina color improved in 2017. The semolina b* value is 30.9, higher than both 2016 and the 5-year average. Wet gluten of 33% and gluten index of 76% are similar to the 5-year averages. Semolina mixograph score is 7 and alveograph W value is 266 (10-4 J), both of which indicate high strength. Pasta color b* value is 44 and score is 10, significantly higher than the 5-year average. Pasta cooked firmness is 5.5.
Mixograms and Alveograms of Northern Durum and Desert Durum


Desert Durum® exhibits consistently large kernels and low moisture, traits that contribute to efficient transportation costs and high extraction rates. The 2017 crop will deliver the valuable milling, semolina and pasta quality traits that customers have learned to expect and appreciate.


Percentage of Total US Durum production by Region

The export cargo data represent 24 individual sublot samples provided by USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service for crop year 2016 (collected from October 2016 through June 2017) and 22 samples for 2015. Grade data are the official grades on the individual sublots. North Dakota State University conducted the milling and processing analyses

Harvest and Export Data Durum

Title : Durum (US Wheat Associates 2017 Crop Quality Report)
Originally Post At : www.uswheat.org

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