WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. 2011 winter wheat production was forecast at 1,424,357,000 bushels, down 60,879,000 bushels, or 4%, from 1,485,236,000 bushels in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in its May Crop Production report on May 11.

The USDA production number was above analysts’ pre-report trade expectations, which averaged near 1.389 billion bushels. It was the first USDA survey-based crop production forecast of winter wheat for the 2011 season.

The USDA forecast winter wheat yield at 44.5 bushels per acre based on conditions as of May 1, down 2.3 bushels from 46.8 bushels in 2010. Harvested area was forecast at 32,039,000 acres, up 1% from 31,749,000 acres a year ago.

Production of hard red winter wheat was forecast at 761,954,000 bushels, down 25% from 1,018,337,000 bushels in 2010, soft red winter at 427,123,000 bushels, up 80% from 237,804,000 bushels, and white winter at 235,280,000 bushels, up 3% from 229,095,000 bushels in 2010, including soft white winter at 223,605,000 bushels, up 4% from 215,599,000 bushels, and hard white winter at 11,675,000 bushels, down 13% from 13,496,000 bushels in 2010.

The USDA numbers compared with pre-report trade expectations averaging near 767 million bushels for hard red winter wheat, 392 million bushels for soft red winter and 231 million bushels for white winter.

“In the southern Great Plains, dry weather during the winter and spring has led to poor growing conditions,” the USDA said. “Crop conditions declined from last year in all of the major hard red winter producing states except Montana. Yields are forecasted lower than last year in all major hard red winter producing states.”

Winter wheat production in Kansas was forecast at 261,800,000 bushels, down 27% from 360,000,000 bushels in 2010, Oklahoma at 74,800,000 bushels, down 38% from 120,900,000 bushels, Colorado at 64,500,000 bushels, down 39% from 105,750,000 bushels, and Texas at 46,800,000 bushels, down 63% from 127,500,000 bushels.

“Favorable planting conditions and adequate moisture this spring in many of the soft red winter producing states has resulted in crop development slightly ahead of the five-year average,” the USDA said. “Yields are forecasted to be higher than 2010 in most soft red winter states.”

Total winter durum production in Arizona and California was estimated at 23,195,000 bushels, up 12% from 20,635,000 bushels in 2010, the USDA said.