WASHINGTON — U.S. farmers intend to plant 58.638 million acres of wheat for harvest in 2009, down 7% from 63.147 million acres in 2008, including 42.889 million acres of winter wheat, down 7% from 46.281 million acres, 2.445 million acres of durum, down 10% from 2.731 million acres, and 13.304 million acres of spring wheat other than durum, down 6% from 14.135 million acres, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its annual Prospective Plantings report. Intended area for corn was 84.986 million acres, down 1% from 85.982 million acres in 2008 and for soybeans was 76.024 million acres, up 306,000 acres, or less than 1%, from 75.718 million acres a year ago. (Click

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

The U.S.D.A. all wheat number was below analysts’ pre-report trade expectations, which averaged 58.9 million acres. The corn estimate was above trade expectations that averaged 84.5 million acres, while the soybean number was well below the average of 79.3 million acres.

Of the winter wheat total, hard red winter accounted for about 30.9 million acres, soft red winter was 8.38 million acres and white winter was 3.65 million acres. Of the spring wheat total, hard red spring was about 12.7 million acres.

The winter wheat seeded area was up 2% from the January Winter Wheat Seedings report. "Acreage increases from the previous report were mainly in the hard red winter growing states," the U.S.D.A. said. Notable area increases were in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado.

If realized, soybean planted area would be the largest on record. "Tightening soybean supplies and lower input costs than corn have resulted in farmers intending to plant more soybean area this year," the U.S.D.A. said. The largest increase would be 200,000 acres in Kansas with the largest decreases of 150,000 acres each in Missouri and South Dakota.

Corn area would be the third largest since 1949 although acreage declined for the second consecutive year. "Expected acreage is down in many states as corn prices have retreated from last year’s record highs and input costs have remained unstable," the U.S.D.A. said. The largest decreases were in North Dakota and Colorado with the largest increases in Missouri, South Dakota and Illinois.

Intended area planted to rice in 2009 was estimated at 3.183 million acres, up 6% from 2.995 million acres in 2008, with increases in all states except California where concerns about water restrictions were a limiting factor, the U.S.D.A. said.

Peanut planted area was expected to total 1.124 million acres, down 27% from 2008. "Record large production in 2008 and concerns about future demand as a result of the salmonella outbreak have limited the number of contracts being offered to producers for the upcoming season," the U.S.D.A. said.

Sugar beet planting intentions were 1,151,600 acres, up 6% from 1,090,800 acres in 2008. Intended area was up in every state except California. Plantings in top-producing Minnesota were expected to increase by 1% from 2008, in North Dakota by 2%, Idaho by 27%, Michigan by 1% and Colorado by 7%.