The U.S. Department of Agriculture projected area seeded to wheat in the United States for harvest in 2011 at 58,021,000 acres, up 8% from 53,603,000 acres in 2010 but down 2% from 59,168,000 bus in 2009. The forecast was contained in the department’s annual Prospective Plantings report released March 31. The recent five-year average all-wheat planted area was 58,752,000 acres. The forecast for the current year, which exceeded the average of pre-report trade estimates at around 57.3 million acres, was based on a slight upward revision to the winter wheat seedings estimate issued in January and a survey of farmer’s spring planting intentions.

Winter wheat plantings were estimated at 41,229,000 acres, up 1% from the January estimate and up 10% from 37,335,000 acres in 2010. The recent five-year average winter wheat planted area was 42,513,000 acres.

The U.S.D.A. indicated of the winter wheat area, 29.4 million acres were hard red winter wheat, 8.2 million acres were soft red winter wheat and 3.7 million acres were white winter wheat. In 2010, hard red winter area was 28.6 million acres and soft red winter area was 5.3 million acres.

Farmers intend to plant 14,427,000 acres of spring wheat other than durum this spring, up 5% from 13,698,000 acres in 2010. The recent five-year average other-spring wheat planted area was 13,864,000 acres. Of the projected other-spring wheat area, 13.6 million acres were hard red spring wheat compared with 13 million acres in 2010. “Planted area is expected to be up in all producing states except Montana and South Dakota. Growers in North Dakota, the leading other-spring wheat growing state, intend to plant 700,000 more acres than last year,” the U.S.D.A. stated in commentary accompanying the plantings forecasts.

Area planted to durum for harvest this year was forecast at 2,365,000 acres, down 8% from 2,570,000 acres in 2010 and compared with the recent five-year average at 2,374,000 acres. “Planted acreage is expected to be down in all producing states except California and South Dakota. Growers in California are expected to plant 40,000 more acres than last year. Durum acres in South Dakota are expected to remain unchanged from 2010,” the U.S.D.A. said.

Also in its Prospective Plantings report, the U.S.D.A. indicated farmers intend to plant 92,178,000 acres of corn this spring, up 5% from 88,192,000 acres in 2010. “If realized, this will be the second-highest planted acreage in the United States since 1944, behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in 2007,” the U.S.D.A. said.

The U.S.D.A. indicated farmers intend to plant 76,609,000 acres of soybeans, down 1% from 77,404,000 acres last year. The U.S.D.A. said, “If realized, the U.S. planted area will be the third largest on record. Compared with last year, planted acreage declines of 100,000 acres or more are expected in Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska and Ohio. If realized, the planted area in New York and North Dakota will be the largest on record.”