WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. 2012 winter wheat production was forecast at 1,693,710,000 bushels, up 200,033,000 bushels, or 13%, from 1,493,677,000 bushels in 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in its May Crop Production report on May 10.

The USDA production number was above analysts’ pre-report trade expectations, which averaged near 1.635 billion bushels. It was the first USDA survey-based crop production forecast of winter wheat for the 2012 season.

The USDA forecast winter wheat yield at 47.6 bushels per acre based on conditions as of May 1, up 1.4 bushels from 46.2 bushels an acre in 2011. Harvested area was forecast at 35,580,000 acres, up 10% from 32,314,000 acres a year ago.

Production of hard red winter wheat was forecast at 1,032,252,000 bushels, up 32% from 780,089,000 bushels in 2011, soft red winter at 428,263,000 bushels, down 6% from 457,535,000 bushels, and white winter at 233,195,000 bushels, down 9% from 256,053,000 bushels in 2011, including soft white winter at 219,135,000 bushels, down 10% from 243,685,000 bushels, and hard white winter at 14,060,000 bushels, up 14% from 12,368,000 bushels in 2011.

The USDA numbers compared with pre-report trade expectations averaging near 990 million bushels for hard red winter wheat, 413 million bushels for soft red winter and 231 million bushels for white winter.

“An unusually mild winter in many of the major winter wheat-producing regions made for early dormancy break and rapid crop development this spring… Above average temperatures and increased moisture in many southern locations improved winter wheat conditions during the month, and helped to maintain a fast development pace,” the USDA said. “Current crop conditions have improved from last year in all major hard red winter producing states except Montana and South Dakota. As of May 1, the per cent of crop rated good to excellent in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas was 27 points or more higher than last year, contributing to forecasted yield increases in those states.”

Total winter durum production in Arizona and California was estimated at 26,335,000 bushels, up 28% from 20,514,000 bushels in 2011, the USDA said.