Wheat is the backbone of many civilizations. Wheat has fed villages, cities and empires throughout the ages. This tiny grain is durable, dependable, stores well and packs a punch in the nutrition department. However, not all wheat is alike. Wheat varieties are divided into six classes: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum, hard white and soft white.
Hard Red Winter
More than 40 percent of the U.S. wheat crop is hard red winter wheat. It is reddish-brown in color and because of it's mellow flavor, hard red winter wheat flour is used primarily in yeast breads and sweets and in all-purpose flour. It is sown in the fall in the Great Plains from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, from Texas to Montana.
Hard Red Spring
Hard red spring wheat mills into a superior bread flour. It is sown in the spring in Montana, Minnesota and the Dakotas. The hull is hard and brown, and is high in protein. More than 13 millions acres of hard red spring wheat are grown in the U.S. annually.
Soft Red Winter
Soft red winter wheat is a soft-hulled, low-protein wheat grown in more humid environments--such as areas east of the Mississippi River, parts of Texas, Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri. Ohio is the leading producer. Soft red winter wheat flour is used in cakes and pastries, specifically baked goods that do not use yeast.
Durum wheat is a very hard-hulled, high-protein, light-colored grain used strictly for pasta and macaroni. About 3 million acres are sown in the spring annually in North Dakota.
Hard white wheat is similar to the red wheats except it has a lighter color and a milder flavor. Hard white is relatively new to American agriculture and is only grown on about 0.3 millions acres annually. Because of its similar structure to the hard red wheats, hard white wheat flour is also used in yeast breads and other yeast goods.
Soft white wheat is grown mainly in the Pacific Northwest. This soft, low-protein, high-yield wheat is mild in flavor and primarily used in cakes, pastries and other nonyeast baked goods.