Feature: Food & Living

Flooded Wheat Fields Mean Higher Prices For Pasta

Author: Martha Shaw
Published: September 04, 2011 at 7:29 am

Durum, considered to be the best crop for producing the world’s finest pasta, is grown in several states including California, Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota. However, at present the fields in North Dakota, where a full 75 percent of the nation’s crop is usually grown has more frogs growing in them than wheat. This cannot be good.

Keith Deutsch, the president of the Bismarck-based U S Durum Growers Association states “this is the worst I’ve seen for wetness. At least in a drought year we can still get the crop in.” Drought is certainly not the trouble this year. The heavy rains of spring and the record breaking flooding prevented growers from even planting seed in some 1 million plus acres of fields in what is known as the nations best durum producing areas.

Far less durum means that prices for pasta, already high due to issues related to heavy rains of spring, will rise still higher.

The US Department of Agriculture estimated that the North Dakota growers were only able to plant about half the quantity of durum compared to last year and that this is, in fact, the lowest in over 50 years! Companies which make pasta from this desirable wheat are having trouble getting enough on hand to do so, “we want Dakota durum because taste is everything with our product” says a company which makes gourmet specialty pastas.

The North Dakota durum market is at a near standstill. The price has gone up and down due to the lack of buying and selling, but what they did sell this past spring went for approximately twice last year’s price. The wheat that they were able to plant, though it “looks good” is proving to be tough to harvest due to flooding and must be harvested before frost sets in.

Continued on the next page

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Article Author: Martha Shaw

A freelance writer and part time teacher of creative writing now living in Charleston South Carolina, I was raised in MA where my previous career was as a banking professional. I was also formerly a columnist for the Chelsea Weekly Newspaper. …

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