MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota is king when it comes to raising the bird that could be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal.

The state's 450 turkey farmers raise about 18 percent of all the birds sold in the U.S., making Minnesota first in production ahead of North Carolina and Arkansas.

The Star Tribune reports Minnesota is expected to produce 44 million turkeys this year. The most recent national Agriculture Census shows turkey production particularly high in central Minnesota, including Kandiyohi County.

The Jennie-O Turkey Store is the nation's second-largest turkey processor with Minnesota plants in Willmar, Melrose, Montevideo, Pelican Rapids and Faribault.

Just a year ago the industry was recovering from a deadly avian flu outbreak that wiped out nearly 50 million turkeys across 15 states. Minnesota was hit hard.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said Monday the state hasn't had a confirmed case all year.