How to Grow Wheat for Food

Overview

Wheat is a very old crop and has been consumed by humans for millennia. It is easier to grow than many crops, but requires a lot of work when harvest time rolls around. Nevertheless, there is a feeling of satisfaction that comes from making bread out of wheat you have grown yourself. When buying seed, you will need to consider what the wheat will be used for. Soft wheat, hard wheat and durum wheat all have different uses. Additionally, you have the option of growing winter wheat (planted in the fall) or spring wheat (planted in the spring).

Step 1

Turn the dirt in the field over with a shovel or rototiller. If you are turning over soil in a lawn or grassland, you may want to consider waiting an extra season before planting so that you can kill any grass that comes up. Also, if you intend to incorporate any soil amendments (particularly fertilizer, but do not use much if you live in dry country), do it at this time. After turning over the soil, smooth it all out with your rake.

Step 2

Plant the wheat. If you are planting winter wheat, plant it between late September and mid-October--six or eight weeks before the soil freeze date. Plant spring wheat as soon as the soil has thawed and becomes workable in the spring. You can plant by broadcasting the seed with a hand crank seeder or just your hands by depositing several seeds each in holes 6 inches apart, or by spreading seed in rows 6 inches apart. Rake soil over the wheat seeds.

Step 3

Water the plants a few times as they are growing, particularly if there is a long dry period. Wheat generally does not need to be watered very frequently, however.

Step 4

Harvest the wheat when it has become ripe. You can tell that this has occurred by the color of the wheat: It will turn yellow. For spring wheat, this will be sometime between May and July; for winter wheat, this will be the fall. Harvest by using a sickle (grabbing, cutting and stacking the wheat) or by using a scythe and cradle.

Step 5

Tie the wheat in bundles and stack them. This can be done in the field, but if you are planting small amounts of wheat it is better to store it in a dry location. The wheat will be brittle and hard when it is ready for threshing.

Step 6

Thresh by beating the wheat into a large container or by using a flail to knock the wheat berries out of the heads of grain. This step requires a large time investment.

Step 7

Wait until a windy day, or set up an electric fan. Prepare a second container to pour the wheat into. When there is a breeze blowing, pour the wheat from the first container into the second, allowing the wind to blow the chaff away. This step should be repeated many times to eliminate all of the chaff.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller or shovel
  • Rake
  • 3 oz. of wheat seed per 100 square feet
  • Crank seeder (optional)
  • Scythe or sickle
  • Electric fan (optional)

References

  • Mother Earth News: Growing Your Own Wheat
  • Organic Consumers: How to Grow and Make Your Own Wheat Flour
  • Solar Navigator: Wheat Crops
Keywords: grow wheat, harvest wheat, wheat for food

About this Author

Gertrude Elizabeth Greene has been a freelance writer and editor for 10 years.Greene writes about a variety of topics including cooking, culture, nutrition, pets and home maintenance for websites such as eHow, GardenGuides and the Daily Puppy. She holds degrees in both philosophy and psychology.