Sunday, February 20, 2011
We grow soft red winter wheat in the states of my region. We grow it because it is best adapted to our soil and climate. The flour from this wheat makes the best cookie or pastry and cracker flour because it is soft, sweet and low in protein. We don't grow the higher protein wheats for bread and pasta here because it does not grow well here.
From Wiki, "Wheat (Triticum spp.) is a grass, originally from the Fertile Crescent region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize (784 million tons) and rice (651 million tons). Globally, wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food, having a higher protein content than either maize (corn) or rice, the other major cereals. In terms of total production tonnages used for food, it is currently second to rice as the main human food crop, and ahead of maize, after allowing for maize's more extensive use in animal feeds.
Wheat was a key factor enabling the emergence of city-based societies at the start of civilization because it was one of the first crops that could be easily cultivated on a large scale, and had the additional advantage of yielding a harvest that provides long-term storage of food. Wheat is a factor in contributing to city-states in the Fertile Crescent including the Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Wheat grain is a staple food used to make flour for leavened, flat and steamed breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, couscous and for fermentation to make beer, other alcoholic beverages, or biofuel.
Wheat is planted to a limited extent as a forage crop for livestock, and its straw can be used as a construction material for roofing thatch. The husk of the grain, separated when milling white flour, is bran. Wheat germ is the embryo portion of the wheat kernel. It is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, and is sustained by the larger, starch storage region of the kernel—the endosperm."
Wheat is one of first crops brought to America and this region by early immigrants from Europe. It was a mainstay on our farm in Sardinia and has been grown there for over 100 years that I know of and probably longer than that.
I remember the long lines of trucks and wagons past our house in the 50's and 60's. Now we haul our wheat by semi tractor and trailer, usually to the main miller left in Ohio, Keynes Milling.
I raised the most wheat I ever grew in my life last year, over 500 acres, even though it was one of the lowest planted acreages in Ohio history. Farmers planted a little more last fall and it looks pretty good at this point.
The challenge now is to get the wheat fertilized with nitrogen and the pests controlled. Winter annual weeds, various diseases and aphids and a few other insects are the main pests we scout and spray for if needed.
Wheat has been a good crop for me but not as profitable as corn or soybeans. It does control erosion helps us stretch our season and work load. The benefit to me is the straw I compost back into the soil while double cropping my main cash crop, soybeans. There is little livestock left in this region and straw is not baled to the extent it once was.
Nothing is more beautiful in the fields today than a green field of cereal grains against the stark looking, brown landscape.
When you drive by a beautiful green field this week, remember wheat.