California wheat acreage for the 2011 harvest season totals about 750,000 acres or about 14 percent higher than last year.

According to the findings from the California Wheat Commission’s (CWC) latest variety survey, Durum acreage showed the largest percentage increase at almost 30 percent while hard red wheat plantings increased 13 percent, the CWC reports.

The Durum increase is based on increased Desert Durum plantings in Southern California. Orita, Desert King, and Havasu are the top varieties planted in the region.

Durum planted in San Joaquin Valley (SJV) was dominated by the variety Platinum for the second year in a row. Durum acreage in the SJV was down slightly down from last year.

Hard white acreage decreased 10 percent mostly due to less white wheat in the Sacramento Valley region. Soft white wheat acreage in far Northern California is estimated higher.

Combined red and white wheat in California accounted for 86 percent of all wheat acreage planted; with red wheat alone accounting for 70 percent of the varieties planted.

Growers in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys planted more hard red wheat this year. Joaquin and the hay/forage variety PR1404 topped the list of red acreage planted in the SJV. The varieties Redwing, PR1404, and Cal Rojo had the most acreage in the Sacramento Valley.

Hard white wheat acreage in the SJV was unchanged from last year as most acreage shifted to the Blanca Grande 515 variety. While the total overall acreage in the Sacramento Valley was higher, growers planted less hard white wheat in the region.

Spring wheat planting is just getting started in far northern California. Estimates suggest plantings will increase substantially from last year's lower levels.