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The Process of Growing Wheat

By Cleveland Van Cecil ; Updated September 21, 2017
Wheat is a popular crop in the United States.

Wheat is a major cash crop grown and harvested worldwide for the production of baked goods. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, wheat is classified by its growing period, called either winter wheat or spring wheat. Winter and spring wheat each offers its own benefits. Growing spring wheat and growing winter wheat are different in practice.

Winter Wheat

Winter wheat provides a larger yield and greater profitability than spring wheat to the farmer. Growing winter wheat also provides cover to reduce wind and water erosion during the cold winter months. Some farmers use winter wheat as a forage for animals to eat during the winter, while others grow it for human consumption. Winter wheat does have the danger of being killed off by extreme winter weather.

Cold Acclimitization

Acclimatize winter wheat to the cold weather by seeding the crop when temperatures are between 30 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This prepares the wheat for colder temperatures. Sow wheat into the residue of other crops to improve germination and protection from wind and cold weather. Three inches of snow provide insulation for the seed, while 4 to 6 inches reduce winter kill.

Seeding Rate for Winter Wheat

Winter wheat requires a seeding depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Shallower depths cause winter kill. Winter wheat is planted to produce 900,000 to 1,000,000 plants in 1 acre of land. Seeds are planted in the fall.

Spring Wheat

Spring wheat is planted early in the spring. The seed germinates as soon as it is sown. The roots emerge from several areas of the seed. The crown sprouts and emerges from the soil. Leaves are produced from the seedling every four to five days after that. The stem continues to grow until the head is pushed out of the leaf sheath, says the University of Minnesota.

Final Yield

The wheat continues to mature throughout the season, eventually becoming what Ohio State University calls "milky ripe." The stalk becomes mealy ripe when the contents of the kernel are soft and dry. Then the kernel hardens. The hardness of the kernel determines the harvest time. Check your wheat variety for the full growth period needed before the kernel is properly hardened.