If you like fresh-baked whole wheat bread, wait until you try it with wheat that you grew and ground into flour yourself. Wheat comes in two varieties: hard red wheat, which is heartier and produces a coarser flour, and soft white wheat, which is milder and makes fine, fluffy flour. White wheat berries are sown in the fall for a harvest in the spring or summer, or you may sow them in the spring for a harvest in the fall. Wheat seeds are known as "wheat berries."
Choose your wheat berries. Some varieties of white wheat are best sown in the fall, and others perform better when planted in the spring. Your local climate will also determine what kind of white wheat is best for you. Some soft white wheat varieties include Tubbs, Weatherford, Alpowa, Twin, Madsen and Stephens. Your local cooperative extension office can help you determine what variety of white wheat to grow. Wheat berries can be purchased from seed stores, some garden centers or the bulk section of some natural food stores.
Prepare the soil for wheat by removing any sod or weeds and amending it with compost if needed.
Sow winter wheat six to eight weeks before the predicted frost. Sow spring wheat as soon as the ground is workable. You can broadcast the seed by hand, use a cyclone crank seeder, or plant the wheat berries in rows. Six lbs. of wheat berries will cover about 1,000 square feet. Rake in the wheat berries and cover them with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Water well.
Water your wheat only if the weather is very dry. Wheat tolerates drought well and will only need watering two or three times in a season.
Harvest the wheat when the seed heads are heavy and drooping and the seed is firm. This will be in May through July for winter wheat, or August to October for spring wheat. Cut the wheat stalks with a scythe or sickle and use twine to bind sheaves. The sheaves should be small enough for you to handle them easily.
Cure the grain either indoors or in the field until the seeds are crisp and too hard to pierce with your fingernail.
Thresh the grain by beating it against the inside of a large, clean garbage can.
Winnow the seed from the chaff by pouring the grain from one bowl into another while standing in front of an electric fan. The breeze from the fan should blow away the straw and seed casings, leaving you with pure wheat berries.
Store your wheat berries in a cool, dark location away from insects and rodents, and grind the wheat berries into flour as needed. Soft white wheat is best used for pastries, crackers, and other delicate baked goods.
Things You Will Need
- White wheat berries
- Cyclone crank seeder
- Scythe or sickle
- Large garbage can
- 2 bowls
- Electric fan
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