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The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 12 estimated the area planted to winter wheat for harvest in 2011 at 40,990,000 acres, up 3,655,000 acres, or 10%, from 37,335,000 acres in 2010 and compared with 42,513,000 acres as the recent five-year average planted acreage. The 2010 winter wheat area was the smallest since 1913. The record-large winter wheat planted area was 65,547,000 acres in 1981. The U.S.D.A. commented, “More acres were seeded this year due to the early row crop harvest and higher prices.”

Planted acreage of hard red winter wheat for harvest this year was estimated at 29.6 million acres, up 1 million acres, or 3%, from 28.6 million acres in 2010. The recent five-year average hard red winter wheat planted area was 30.8 million acres. The U.S.D.A. commented, “Acreage is above last year’s levels in all states in the hard red winter growing area except Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. The largest increases are in Kansas and South Dakota, up 400,000 and 300,000 acres, respectively.”

Soft red winter wheat planted area was estimated at 7.76 million acres, up 2.49 million acres, or 47%, from a record low 5.27 million acres in 2010. The recent five-year average soft red winter wheat planted area was 8.16 million acres. The U.S.D.A. said, “Farmers in several states reported trouble finding enough seed due to the large increase in acres seeded. The largest acreage increases are in

Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri.”

White winter wheat planted area was estimated at 3.66 million acres, up 4% from 2010. The U.S.D.A. said, “Planted acreage in the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon and Washington) is up from last year. Winter wheat planted area is up 90,000 acres from 2010 in Idaho, down 10,000 in Oregon and unchanged in Washington.”