Soft red winter (SRW) plantings increased significantly from 2009/10 when heavy rainfall and a delayed row crop harvest led to record low acreage. At an estimated 8.2 million acres, SRW plantings are up 55 percent from a year ago. Estimated SRW acreage in Illinois more than doubled from last year, from 330,000 acres to 760,000 acres. Missouri SRW plantings increased from 370,000 acres last year to 830,000 acres for the 2011/12 crop.

Hard red winter (HRW) planted area, while higher than last year’s 28.6 million acres, came in slightly lower than USDA’s January estimate. USDA reported HRW plantings at 29.4 million acres, down 0.2 million acres from January. USDA decreased its acreage estimates for last year’s second and third largest HRW producers, Texas and Oklahoma.

USDA estimated Texas HRW acreage at 5.65 million acres, down 100,000 acres from January, while Oklahoma’s projected acreage fell from 5.4 million acres in January to 5.2 million acres.

Kody Bessent of the Texas Wheat Producers Association said the Texas panhandle south through the southern plains has not received any showers since October. He warned that if poor conditions persist producers could switch from wheat to cotton this May, leading to a further decline in acreage.

Currently, 62 percent of the Texas HRW crop is rated in either poor or very poor condition, compared to eight percent a year ago.

USDA reported increased acreage for the Pacific Northwest states where the majority of soft white (SW) wheat is produced. Washington state wheat plantings increased by five percent, to 2.5 million acres. Idaho and Oregon also planted more wheat, up by six percent and three percent respectively, to 1.5 and 1 million acres.

Read USDA’s Prospective Plantings report online at: http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/pspl0311.pdf.