WASHINGTON — U.S. winter wheat seeded in 2008 for harvest in 2009 was estimated at 42,098,000 acres, down 4,183,000 acres, or 9%, from the 46,281,000 acres seeded for harvest in 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its annual Winter Wheat Seedings report this morning. (Click

here for full U.S.D.A. report.)

The U.S.D.A. seedings number was 5% below analysts’ pre-report trade expectations, which averaged 44.2 million acres.

Area seeded to hard red winter wheat was estimated at 30.2 million acres, down 4% from 2008 and 3% below trade expectations which average 31.1 million acres.

"The late row crop harvest and lower prices limited planted acres in most parts of the region with planted area down 600,000 acres in Kansas and down 200,000 in Oklahoma," the U.S.D.A. said. "Acreage is below last year’s level in all states in the HRW growing area except Colorado and Texas, which increased 250,000 and 100,000, respectively."

Soft red winter wheat seeded area was estimated at 8.29 million acres, down 26% from a year earlier and 12% under average trade expectations of 9.4 million acres.

"Large acreage decreases from last year occurred in all SRW growing states due largely to the late row crop harvest, high input costs and the fall in wheat prices," the U.S.D.A. said. "Planted area decreased 350,000 acres or more in Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri."

White winter wheat seedings were estimated at 3.62 million acres, up 1% from 2008 but 4% below average trade expectations of 3.8 million acres.

Winter seedings of durum in Arizona and California were estimated at 270,000 acres, down 16% from a year earlier. Area in Arizona was estimated at 110,000 acres, down 40,000 acres, or 27%, from 2008. California durum seedings were estimated at 160,000 acres, down 10,000 acres, or 6%, from the previous year.

The first 2009 winter wheat production estimate will be issued by the U.S.D.A. on May 12.