Durum supplies are already low in North Dakota, the top state for the crop, at the lowest early spring level on record. Officials say that as more acres go to corn, the durum supply could slip even more.
When USDA's March planting intentions report brought corn prices down, predicting corn acres at 90.5 million this year, wheat prices came down, too. The projection that durum acres would be up 6% nationally this year could be whittled down considerably if the market doesn't provide incentive.
In North Dakota - which produces two-thirds of the nation's durum - farmer Larry Neubauer tells Dow Jones newswires, "with the market dropping, farmers aren't going to seed (durum). I question if the durum acres will be up at all this year." Neubauer has cut back his own durum production 25% in recent years.
According to North American Millers' Association vice president Jim Bair, U.S. durum production does not typically meet demand, on average coming up around 35 million bushels short at just under 100 million bushels per year. Additionally, much of the U.S. crop is not milling quality, leading millers to look to Canada to meet demand.