The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 12 estimated the area planted to winter wheat in the United States for harvest in 2010 at 37,097,000 acres, down 14% from 43,311,000 acres in 2009 and down 20% from the recent-largest winter wheat area of 46,307,000 acres in 2008. The estimate for the current year marked the smallest area planted to winter wheat in the United States since 1913 and was well below the lowest of pre-report trade estimates.

The U.S.D.A. estimated area planted to hard red winter wheat at around 27.8 million acres, down 12% from 31.6 million acres in 2009. “Poor weather, low prices and the late row crop harvest contributed to the decrease,” the U.S.D.A. said. “Acreage is expected to be below last year’s level in most states in the hard red winter wheat-growing area with a record low in Nebraska.” The largest decrease in area was in Kansas, the largest producer of hard winter wheat. Kansas producers planted 8.6 million acres to winter wheat, down 700,000 acres from a year ago. It was the smallest winter wheat area in the state since 1957.

Area planted to soft red winter wheat was estimated at about 5.92 million acres, down 29% from 8.3 million acres in 2009 and down 47% from the recent high seedings of 11.2 million acres for harvest in 2008. “Large acreage decreases from last year occurred in all soft red winter-growing states due to the late row crop harvest, heavy rains and wet soil conditions,” the U.S.D.A. said. “Record low acreages are expected in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.”

White winter wheat seeded area was estimated at about 3.33 million acres, down 1% from 2009.