There is a lot of attention to plant crops like vegetables, fruits, and herbs. But, amongst every staple food, wheat is a pivotal crop.
Planting wheat is a prime activity of many farmers. Modern farming has numerous research and guides to ease the process of growing such plants.
As wheat is a primary grain for flour, it is imperative to know basic details about this beautiful staple food. Therefore, this article aims at providing every necessary detail about growing wheat. So, along with farmers, people interested in cultivation can surely benefit from this guide.
Let us understand the different varieties, harvest seasons, the best equipment, and crucial care for planting wheat.
Wheat: A Healthy Global Grain
Health fanatics understand the value of wheat as a seed without any unwanted side effects. For example, unlike other grains like rice, wheat does not cause a significant rise in bad cholesterol levels.
Thus, most doctors and health experts recommend the inclusion of wheat in the diet.
Technically, wheat is nothing but a type of grass. However, after proper cultivation, we obtain seeds that are prominently known as common wheat.
A farmer grows a variety of wheat grains on the farm. However, any person can grow wheat in a backyard. With the correct information, planting this excellent seed is lucrative.
Here are some quick scientific facts about wheat:
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Triticum
- Sun Position Requirement: Full
- Most compatible soil: Clay loam
- Ideal cultivation season: Winter
- Ideal water requirement: 12 -15 inches
- Temperature for optimum development: 22-degree celsius
All of us are aware that different regions have distinct weather and soil conditions. Hence, you can observe a variation in wheat grown in different parts of the world.
The Varieties Of Wheat
There are around seven different species of this healthy grain around the world. Accordingly, the varieties differ as per specific conditions.
1. Classification Based On Planting Season
Globally, planting seasons are mostly winter, spring, and fall. Accordingly, there are wheat varieties based on seasons.
The planting of this variety takes place in early spring. Farmers harvest them in late summer. In some cases, early autumn is an ideal period for harvesting.
This type of grain does not contain a high protein content. Therefore, you can expect spring wheat used in cakes and other relevant items.
The planting of such grass takes place in Autumn. Further, they are allowed to germinate. This germination facilitates rapid development.
Winter wheat is associated with high yield rates and is a cash crop. The USDA generates regular data on wheat production and consumption.
2. Classification Based On Class
There are subtypes of seasonal grains. Often, expert cultivators separate them based on evident characteristics. Hence, the most prominent classes of wheat are:
This variety has a high gluten content. Hence, you can ideally use this type in famous dishes like pasta, bread, etc. Durum flour is well-known for its high fiber content.
This variety of wheat is primarily a great ingredient in noodles. So, you can always confuse between hard white and hard red variety. As hard white is a new type, research on its nutrients is still in progress.
This grain is light in color and shorter in overall length. Professionals use soft white flour in muffins, snack foods, and cookies.
Hard Red Winter
This type is the most common variety of wheat in the United States. The husk of this class is reddish in appearance. The high protein content makes it a general-purpose flour grain.
Farmers often have limitations due to many uncontrollable factors like the type of soil and climate conditions. Still, you can find mill owners storing a variety of planted wheat.
Wheat Growing: A Definitive Planting Guide
Want to know the process of growing this wonderful grain in-depth? This guide will help you out. You can use your own backyard, garden, or an acre of farm to grow wheat.
Just be sure to follow the crucial tips on soil, seeds, the area required, and the number of weeks to wait in excitement.
1. Before Planting A Seed, Know The Basics
Plants need proper soil, weather, and space for growth. But, as a cultivator, you need to know the fundamentals of a particular plant seed.
Get this straight. Wheat is grass, so it essentially similar to growing a lawn. You do not need a huge field to begin. Even a free garden area can be enough.
2. The Soil
Aim for a ground having soil that drains and holds enough moisture. The water holding capacity of the soil must be medium. Try to grow wheat on loamy soil.
If you are sowing this plant in your backyard, a square specially made for this purpose can prove conducive. You can get decent produce if the soil is ideal.
3. Prepare The Ground
The next step is correctly planting the seeds. Proper tilling of the soil is the initial step. You can use a practical tool like a shovel to develop the soil.
In case you do not feel the soil is moist enough, compost can do the trick. You can buy quality composts from a local community market too. The idea is to prepare the ground as efficiently as possible.
4. It’s Time To Sow The Seeds
The next step in the planting process is to distribute the wheat seeds evenly. Generally, modern farmers use spreaders to sow the seeds.
As a hobby cultivator, you can use your bare hands. You can divide the area into one square inch space. Next, the seeds package has proper distribution instructions.
5. Time The Planting As Per Your Goal
Different varieties of crops need proper planning. Also, you should know the appropriate schedule to grow winter wheat and spring wheat.
Spring wheat likes a cool climate. Hence, you can plant this variety during the colder season. Next, prepare your planting bed somewhere in the fall season.
From September to December, you can initiate planting winter wheat crops. Remember, this variety gives the highest yield rate. Usually, farmers harvest winter wheat around late spring.
6. Watering The Plant
Planning is just a prerequisite in any plant harvesting technique. After planting, you need to use water and catalysts too. Remember, wheat grown in moist soil yields good results.
In the case of these crops, it is essential to water the seeds regularly. However, you can skip this step during heavy rains. Continuous watering is more prevalent for winter wheat.
To grow this seed effectively, you must be conversant with some useful points. These points are applicable irrespective of seasons like spring or summer.
- Feekes scale is a handy cereal growth rate measuring scale. You can use it to good effect.
- It takes around seven to eight months for a batch of this grain to grow.
- In the beginning, this grain looks like grass. It is wonderful to observe the growth journey.
- Planting, sowing, harvesting and storing are the major stages in any cereal development.
All in all, once you master these basics, be it spring or winter, there is no need to wait for becoming a farmer.
Care Tips For Wheat
Planting any crop is an easy task. The main duty is to care for the plant. In the case of wheat, you need to follow general care instructions. So, without any further ado, let us understand how to care before harvesting wheat.
1. Do Not Use Lots Of Water
Wheat does not require a tremendous amount of water. So, refrain from watering wheat extensively. However, as loamy clay holds moisture, you need to plan the water sessions wisely.
Also, do not saturate the bed after planting the wheat seeds. Moisture is crucial to produce a fine crop of wheat.
2. Fencing Helps To Protect The Green
Yes, this point is a cliche, but a good fencing solution is essential for a good harvest season. If not, cattle and livestock can feed on wheat quite easily.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to care for the wheat crop during any season. You can get an affordable fencing solution to safeguard an acre of land these days.
3. Implement Proper Pest Control Solutions
Good quality pesticides are always vital to protect any crop. Be it fall, summer, or winter, pests and plant diseases are headaches for every rancher.
So, to ease the germination process and protect wheat from termites, aphids, etc., ensure using a decent insecticide.
4. Do Not Use a Large Quantity Of Fertilizer
Be it spring wheat or any other variety; you should abstain from using a large quantity of fertilizer. Generally, wheat is a tough crop, but you should use only recommended fertilizers.
Winter wheat withstands freezing weather. So, wheat requires less care. Once you use fertilizer during the preparation phase, that’s enough.
Proper care ensures minimum efforts while threshing, winning, and other harvest activities.
Wheat Growing: Harvest
Harvesting is the final step in growing market-ready wheat. The color of the wheat leaves turns yellow from green. That’s when you can get harvested crop.
As a cultivator, you need to time the harvesting properly. Do not let the crop become too ripe.
For proper harvesting, the moisture content in the wheat should be around 30%. That’s when you get the most from the grains you plant. Still, it is advantageous to follow a correct harvest method.
Follow the steps below to ensure the right amount of produce from your wheat plants:
- Observe the color of the plants. If the appearance is golden or brownish red, know it is the right time for harvesting.
- Use a tool like a scythe to cut the plant. Remember to keep more than an inch of a gap to get a comfortable amount of stem.
- Pack the cut head in bundles of eight or ten stems each.
- Store the bundles in a barn or field. The idea is to keep them as dry as possible. You can even place these bundles on a bug table for proper segregation.
- Once dry, it would be best if you indulged in threshing and winnowing activities.
The main part of the planted grain is attached to the overall lengthy straw. You need to separate this edible part as early as possible.
Threshing is the first step in preparing the grain for further processing. In simple words, harvested wheat needs a separation of seed heads from the stem. You can separate these threads by the use of hands or equipment like a flail.
These days, threshing machines are prominent amongst producers. These machines have high efficiency and suit the requirement for huge grain farms. Finally, you can collect all the grains in a suitable container.
Remember to cover every single inch of land to ensure minimum wastage. After all, there are weeks of effort to prepare wholesome wheat grains.
We are coming to the final stage of growing and harvesting wheat. This is a simple method to separate grains from the chaff. Winnowing makes the optimum use of wind.
All you need to do is expose the chaff to the natural wind in the air. The chaff blows away with this wind. On the other hand, you can even use a fan for this purpose too.
The low speed of a fan helps blow out the lightweight chaff leaving the heavier grain in a container. This method is independent of any particular season. However, depending on your variety and time of planting, the winnowing season can vary.
All in all, this final step does not require any considerable equipment.
Storing the seed after winnowing is an equally vital task. After all, mill owners need high-quality wheat free from any decay.
If you are a farmer, you should cover the seeds with a sheet and store them in an open space. Additionally, take proper care of the hygiene and safety of the storage. Ideally, air-tight containers and a cool place are the best combinations to store wheat.
Proper ventilation is paramount to keep the seed in the best condition. So, the location should not be too warm either.
Problems Associated With Wheat
When you grow wheat, certain issues are inevitable. Be it spring wheat or the one planted in winter; you should be wary of common issues.
Germination is crucial for plants to grow at a brisk pace. Be it north or south, the variations in wind velocities can harm natural processes.
Other than natural challenges, some unwanted infections like scab attacks common types like spring wheat, barley, and durum. Scab is a fungal disease that causes pivotal yield loss after planting a wheat seed.
In addition, plants are prone to rust diseases too. You can observe such adverse impact in any season – spring, fall, or summer. The wheat crop faces leaf and stripe rust. Research is in progress to treat planted crops that face rust issues.
In America’s south, insects are a massive problem connected with low-quality wheat grains. So, many cultivators are looking for innovative ways to cover the planted crops.
Uses Of Wheat
They are the staple food and used in flour, bread, and noodles. Hence, more and more people want to grow this healthy grain.
Most of the food items you eat have this fibrous seed as the main ingredient. Common food items that you can’t wait to resist are:
- Breakfast cereals
An Abundant Source Of Nutrition
Growing wheat is not a hugely complex process. You can even use your home garden to grow this fantastic grain and eventually make your own bread.
However, there are several nutritious benefits that you can enjoy in a whole bread.
Important nutrition values in 100 grams serving (Hard red winter variety):
- Fats: 1.54 grams
- Proteins: 12.61 grams
- Carbohydrates: 71.18 grams
- Water: 13.1 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 12.2 grams
- Energy: 327 kcal
Wheat is a major part of the diet in almost every community across the globe. Warm countries and countries with a mild summer enjoy this wholesome grain with equal zest.
Your wait for growing wheat plant is now over. You will definitely achieve success once you follow the planting guide and care tips. Remember that farming and agriculture need proper planning. With the right amount of dedication, growing any crop is a fun task.
Hopefully, you find this article conducive to begin your wonderful journey. You might become a master in two weeks studying different crop patterns. You can begin by preparing a chart on a sheet. You can use this sheet to keep track of the growth progress of your beloved nutritional grain!
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.