WASHINGTON — The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 12 estimated the area planted to winter wheat 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 in the United States since 1913 and was well below the lowest of pre-report trade estimates.

“Seeding began in August and by mid-September was behind the five-year average,” the U.S.D.A. stated in commentary accompanying the planting data. “The late row crop harvest and wet weather delayed planting in most states.”

The U.S.D.A. estimated area planted to hard red winter wheat for 2010 at around 27.8 million acres, down 12% from 31,649,000 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 decreases are in Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas. Winter wheat seeded in Kansas is down 700,000 acres, 8% below 2009 and the lowest planted acres since 1957. Montana is down 550,000 acres, 22% below 2009 and the third-largest decrease on record. Winter wheat in Oklahoma is expected to be down 500,000 acres, the lowest acreage since 1971. Acreage in Texas is down 1 million acres, the fourth-largest decrease on record and the lowest planted area since 1973.”

The recent five-year average hard red winter wheat planted area was 31,071,000 acres.

Area planted to soft red winter wheat was estimated at about 5.92 million acres, down 29% from 8,309,000 acres in 2009 and down 47% from the recent high seedings of 11,196,000 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. The largest decreases are in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. Winter wheat in Arkansas is down 230,000 acres, 53% below 2009. Illinois is down 500,000 acres, 59% below last year. Acreage seeded in Missouri is down 360,000 acres, a 46% drop from 2009. Ohio is down 210,000 acres, down 21% from 2009.”

The recent five-year average soft red winter wheat planted area was 8,333,000 acres.

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

“Planted area in the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington) is up from last year,” the U.S.D.A. observed. “Winter wheat planted area is up 40,000 acres from 2009 in Idaho, up 50,000 in Oregon and unchanged in Washington. Seeding began ahead of normal in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. By Nov. 8, virtually all fields had been seeded in the region with 90% of the acreage emerged in Washington, 81% in Idaho and 67% in Oregon.”

Durum seedings in Arizona and California for the 2010 harvest were estimated at 205,000 acres, down 33% from 305,000 acres in 2009. Planted acreage was down 35,000 acres in Arizona and down 65,000 acres in California.