WASHINGTON — U.S. 2009 winter wheat production was forecast at 1,502,074,000 bus, down 365,829,000 bus, or 20%, from 1,867,903,000 bus in 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its May Crop Production report this morning. (Click

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

The U.S.D.A. production number was about 2% below analysts’ pre-report trade expectations, which averaged near 1,526,000,000 bus. It was the first U.S.D.A. survey-based crop production forecast for the 2009 season.

The U.S.D.A. forecast winter wheat yield at 44.2 bus per acre based on conditions as of May 1, down 3 bus from 47.2 bus last year. Harvested area was forecast at 33,995,000 acres, down 14% from 39,614,000 acres a year ago.

Production of hard red winter wheat was forecast at 871,394,000 bus, down 16% from 1,035,235,000 bus in 2008, soft red winter at 422,313,000 bus, down 31% from 613,578,000 bus, and white winter at 208,367,000 bus, down 5%, including soft white winter at 187,603,000 bus, down 4%, and hard white winter at 20,764,000 bus, down 9%.

Hard red winter area was expected to be down about 9% from a year ago and soft red winter area down about 30%.

U.S.D.A. estimates for wheat by class also were below trade expectations.

Total winter durum production in Arizona and California was estimated at 25,275,000 bus, down 18% from 30,877,000 bus in 2008, the U.S.D.A. said.