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Wheat

WHEAT

WHEAT. Throughout American history wheat has been the principal bread cereal. It was introduced by the first English colonists and early became the major cash crop of farmers on the westward-moving frontier. In colonial times its culture became concentrated in the middle colonies, which became known as the bread colonies. In the mid-eighteenth century, wheat culture spread to the Tidewater region of Maryland and Virginia, where George Washington became a prominent grower.

As the frontier crossed the Appalachian Mountains, so did wheat raising. The census of 1840 revealed Ohio as the premier wheat-producing state, but twenty years later Illinois took the lead; it retained its leading position for three decades, until Minnesota overtook it in 1889. Leadership moved with the farming frontier onto the Great Plains in the first years of the twentieth century. Census takers in 1909 found North Dakota to be the nation's top producer, followed by Kansas. Between 1919 and 1975 the order was reversed, except in 1934 and 1954, when Oklahoma and then Montana moved into second place. In the meantime, the soils of the Columbia River Valley became productive, with the state of Washington ranking fourth in wheat production in 1959.

The majority of the farmers east of the Mississippi River preferred soft winter wheat varieties, such as the Mediterranean (introduced in 1819), but those who settled the Great Plains found those varieties ill-adapted to the region's climates. Hard red spring wheats, such as Red Fife and Bluestem, proved more suited to the northern plains, while Turkey, a hard red winter wheat introduced into central Kansas by German Mennonites who had immigrated from Russia, became popular on the southern plains. The introduction of these hard wheats prompted a major change in the technology of grinding of wheat into flour: a shift from millstones to rollers.

Wheat growers soon developed more varieties better adapted to different regions. Early maturing Marquis was introduced from Canada in 1912, and by 1929 it made up 87 percent of the hard spring wheat acreage in the United States. It proved susceptible to black stem rust, however, and after 1934 it lost favor to Thatcher and, in the late 1960s, to Chris and Fortuna varieties. On the southern plains, Tenmarq, released by the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station in 1932, superseded Turkey and was in turn replaced first by Pawnee and later by Triumph and Scout. In the 1960s the wheat growers of the Columbia Valley began to favor a new short-stemmed soft white winter wheat, known as Gaines, which doubled yields in that area within a four-year period.

Whatever the variety, in the colonial and early national period farmers sowed wheat by broadcasting (scattering seed by hand over a wide area), reaped mature wheat using sickles, and threshed the harvested grain with flails. In rapid succession in the nineteenth century, sowing with drills replaced broadcasting, cradles took the place of sickles, and reapers and binders in turn replaced cradles. Steam-powered threshing machines superseded flails. In the 1930s the small combine joined reaping and threshing into a single operation. Such technological advances greatly increased the nation's wheat production while cutting the labor requirements per bushel.

The handling and marketing of wheat went through parallel changes. Initially, laborers sacked, shipped, and unloaded the harvest into storage warehouses by hand, but after the Civil War railroads began to construct large grain elevators at country railroad stations and even larger elevators in terminal markets. Grain exchanges there sold the wheat to flour millers and exporters, and a futures market developed for speculators. However, farmers soon accused elevator operators of undergrading, shortweighting, and excessive dockage and began to seek active control over marketing through the organization of cooperatives.

Since colonial times, American wheat growers have produced a surplus for export. Exports of wheat and flour varied from 868,500 bushels in 1814 to 223.8 million bushels in 1898, providing foreign exchange that helped to finance the nation's industrialization. However, expansion of acreage during World War I and contraction of overseas demand after the armistice created an accumulation of surpluses that could not be marketed. The resulting low prices prompted growers to seek government price supports, first through the McNary-Haugen Bill, which failed to become law, and later through the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 and its many revisions. Increasing production, which reached one billion bushels in 1944, permitted an expansion of wheat and flour exports as part of the nation's foreign assistance programs. In fiscal year 1966 these exports amounted to 858.7 million bushels, of which some 571 million were disposed of as food aid. A disastrous drought in the Soviet Union in 1972 led to the sale of 388.5 million bushels to that country in one year and the conclusion in 1975 of an agreement to supply the Soviets with breadstuffs over a five-year period.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brumfield, Kirby. This Was Wheat Farming: A Pictorial History of the Farms and Farmers of the Northwest Who Grow the Nation's Bread. Seattle, Wash.: Superior Publishing, 1968.

Hadwiger, Don F. Federal Wheat Commodity Programs. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1970.

Malin, James C. Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1944.

Quisenberry, K. S., and L. P. Reitz. "Turkey Wheat: The Cornerstone of an Empire." Agricultural History 48 (1974): 98– 110.

Robert G.Dunbar/c. w.

See alsoAgriculture ; Cereal Grains ; Dry Farming ; Elevators, Grain ; Gristmills ; Insecticides and Herbicides .

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wheat

wheat, cereal plant of the genus Triticum of the family Gramineae (grass family), a major food and an important commodity on the world grain market.

Wheat Varieties and Their Uses

The wheat plant is an annual, probably derived from a perennial; the ancestry of and precise distinctions between species are no longer always clear. For its early growth wheat thrives best in cool weather. Among the more ancient, and now less frequently cultivated, species are einkorn (T. monococcum), emmer (T. dicoccum), and spelt (T. spelta). Modern wheat varieties are usually classified as winter wheats (fall-planted and unusually winter hardy for grain crops) and spring wheats. Approximately three fourths of the wheat grown in the United States is winter wheat.

Flour from hard wheats (varieties evolved for the most part from T. aestivum) contains a high percentage of gluten and is used to make bread and fine cakes. The hardest-kerneled wheat is durum (T. durum); its flour is primarily used in the manufacture of macaroni, spaghetti, and other pasta products. White- and soft-wheat varieties are paler and have starchy kernels; their flour is preferred for piecrust, biscuits, and breakfast foods. Wheat is used in the manufacture of whiskey and beer, and the grain, the bran (the residue from milling), and the vegetative plant parts make valuable livestock feed. Before the introduction of corn into Europe, wheat was the principal source of starch for sizing paper and cloth.

Diseases and Pests

Wheat is susceptible to many pests and diseases, the more destructive including rust, bunt (see smut), and the Hessian fly and chinch bug. All wheat-producing countries carry on breeding experiments to improve existing varieties or to obtain new ones with such dominant characteristics as disease resistance, increased hardiness under specific environments, and greater yield.

Wheat Production Today

The great wheat-producing countries of the world are the United States, China, and Russia; extensive wheat growing is carried on also in India, W Europe, Canada, Argentina, and Australia. In the United States the wheat belt covers the Ohio Valley, the prairie states, and E Oregon and Washington; Kansas leads the states in production. Large-scale mechanized farming and continued planting of wheat without regard to crop rotation have exhausted the soil of large areas. High-yield wheat, one of the grains resulting from the Green Revolution, requires optimal growth conditions, e.g., adequate irrigation and high concentrations of fertilizer.

History

Wheat was one of the first of the grains domesticated by humans (see grain). Its cultivation began in the Neolithic period; some ancient species of wheat were domesticated around 10,000 years ago in what is now Turkey. A millennium later wheat had spread to the Near East, and it was cultivated in Egypt by 5000 BC By way of Iran, wheat reached India around 4000 BC and China around 2000 BC About 8,000 years ago it arrived in Greece from Turkey, and then spread throughout Europe, reaching Britain around 3000 BC The civilizations of W Asia and of the European peoples have been largely based on wheat, while rice has been more important in E Asia. Since agriculture began, wheat has been the chief source of bread for Europe and the Middle East. It was introduced into Mexico by the Spaniards c.1520 and into Virginia by English colonists early in the 17th cent.

Classification

Wheat is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Poaceae (Gramineae).

Bibliography

See publications issued by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; P. T. Dondlinger, The Book of Wheat (1908, repr. 1973); L. T. Evans and W. J. Peacock, ed. Wheat Science: Today and Tomorrow (1981).

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"wheat." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wheat

Wheat

Wheat

Common wheat (Triticum aestivum ) is an annual cool season grass that is grown across a wide range of environments around the world. It has the broadest range of adaptation of all the cereals and more land is devoted to wheat than any other commercial crop. Wheat is the number-one food grain consumed directly by humans, and its production leads all crops, including rice, maize, and potatoes.

Wheat is a typical grass in that it forms several leafy shoots that grow about one meter in height. Each shoot has five to seven nodes and produces an inflorescence that is a thick condensed spike. Each spike has a main axis bearing spikelets separated by short internodes with two to five florets within each spikelet. Wheat normally has thirty to forty kernels per spike and is self-pollinated. The moisture content of the seed is about 10 percent, which makes wheat grain easy to store and transport.

This crop is the most important source of carbohydrates in the majority of countries in the temperate zone. Wheat is an excellent food, even though the grain is deficient in some essential amino acids (it is particularly low in lysine). Wheat starch is easily digested, as is most wheat protein. The grain contains minerals, vitamins, and fats (lipids), and when wheat products are complemented by small amounts of animal or legume protein, the combination is highly nutritious. A predominantly wheat-based diet is higher in fiber and lower in fats than a meat-based diet.

Most of the wheat marketed is used to manufacture flour from which bread, cakes, cookies, crackers, and pastries are made. Wheat grain is an excellent livestock feed, as are many of the by-products from the milling of the grain into flour. Normally about 70 percent of the grain can be made into flour and the rest into very useful by-products. Also, the green plants can be used for livestock forage.

Wheat has unique baking properties, the most important of which is the elasticity of its gluten protein. The amount and quality of the gluten produced by any particular type are prime factors in determining the quality of the flour that can be obtained from the milling process. Unlike any other grain or plant product, wheat gluten enables dough to rise through the formation of small gas cells that retain the carbon dioxide formed during yeast fermentation or chemical leavening. This is what gives bread its porous structure. Bread has been a basic food for humans throughout recorded history, and probably for a much longer period: it remains the principal food product made from wheat.

Wheat is divided into several classes based on the level of the gluten protein. Hard wheats are high in protein (13 to 15 percent) with strong gluten strength and are used primarily for bread making. Soft wheats are low in protein (10 to 12 percent) with weak gluten strength and are used for cakes, cookies, and other pastries.

There are also two types of wheat based on the season they are grown. Winter wheat is fall planted and is harvested in early summer. Spring wheat is planted in the early spring and harvested in the summer. Winter wheat is quite winter hardy and actually requires cold temperatures in order to head out and produce a grain crop, whereas spring wheat is not winter hardy and does not have a cold requirement to produce grain.

A crop of wheat is harvested somewhere in the world during every month of the year. Most of the global harvest, however, occurs between April and September in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere; considerably less wheat is grown in the Southern Hemisphere, where harvest occurs from October to January.

The culture of wheat is highly mechanized with large grain drills used to plant and large combines to harvest. A single person can grow hundreds of acres since it is not labor intensive. Wheat does not require as much fertilizer as most other crops and only occasionally requires pesticides such as fungicides, herbicides, or insecticides. Wheat is less profitable on a per-acre basis than many other crops and to date no genetically transformed wheat has been grown on a commercial scale. A great deal of research is being done with wheat and it is probable that genetically engineered wheat will be available in the near future.

see also Agriculture, History of; Agriculture, Modern; Economic Importance of Plants; Grains; Transgenic Plants.

Ronald D. Barnett

Bibliography

Briggle, L. W. "Origin and Botany of Wheat." In Wheat, ed. E. Hafliger. Basel, Switzerland: Documenta Ciba-Geigy, 1980.

, and B. C. Curtis. "Wheat Worldwide." In Wheat and Wheat Improvement, ed. E. G. Heyne. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy, Inc., 1987.

Buskuk, W., and C. W. Wrigley. "Proteins: Composition, Structure, and Function." In Wheat: Production and Utilization, ed. G. E. Inglett. Westport, CT: AVI Publishing Co., 1974.

Johnson, V. A., L. W. Briggle, J. D. Axtell, L. F. Bouman, E. R. Leng, and T. H. Johnston. "Grain Crops." In Protein Resources and Technology, eds. M. Milner et al. Westport, CT: AVI Publishing Co., 1978.

Leonard, W. H., and J. H. Martin. Cereal Crops. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

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wheat

wheat The most important of the cereals and one of the most widely grown crops. Many thousand varieties are known but there are three main types: Triticum vulgare, used mainly for bread; Triticum durum (durum wheat; see also kamut), largely used for pasta; and Triticum compactum (club wheat), too soft for ordinary bread. The berry is composed of the outer, branny husk, 13% of the grain; the germ or embryo (rich in nutrients), 2%; and the central endosperm (mainly starch), 85%. See also flour, extraction rate.

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wheat

wheat / (h)wēt/ • n. a cereal plant (genus Triticum) that is the most important kind grown in temperate countries, the grain of which is ground to make flour for bread, pasta, pastry, etc. ∎  the grain of this plant. PHRASES: separate the wheat from the chaffsee chaff1 .

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wheat

wheat Cereal grass originating in the Middle East. Cultivated there since 7000 bc, it is now grown worldwide. It is used for bread, pasta, cake, and pastry flour. Wheat is also used in the preparation of malt, dextrose and alcohol. Family Poaceae/Gramineae.

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wheat

wheat OE. hwǣte = OS. hwēti (Du. weit), OHG. weiz(z)i (G. weizen), ON. hveiti, Goth. hwaiteis :- Gmc. *χwaitjaz, f. var. of *χwīt- WHITE.
Hence wheaten (-EN2) OE. hwǣten.

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Wheat

WHEAT

WHEAT.

This entry includes two subentries:
The Natural History of Wheat
Wheat as a Food

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wheat

wheat See TRITICUM.

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wheat

wheataccrete, beat, beet, bittersweet, bleat, cheat, cleat, clubfeet, compete, compleat, complete, conceit, Crete, deceit, delete, deplete, discreet, discrete, eat, effete, élite, entreat, escheat, estreat, excrete, feat, feet, fleet, gîte, greet, heat, leat, leet, Magritte, maltreat, marguerite, meat, meet, mesquite, mete, mistreat, neat, outcompete, peat, Pete, petite, pleat, receipt, replete, seat, secrete, sheet, skeet, sleet, splay-feet, street, suite, sweet, teat, treat, tweet, wheat •backbeat • heartbeat • deadbeat •breakbeat • offbeat • browbeat •downbeat • drumbeat • upbeat •sugar beet • Blackfeet • flatfeet •forefeet • exegete • polychaete •lorikeet • parakeet •athlete, biathlete, decathlete, heptathlete, pentathlete, triathlete •kick-pleat • paraclete • obsolete •gamete • crabmeat • sweetmeat •mincemeat • forcemeat • backstreet •concrete • window seat

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