Wheat is a key food crop that has been grown for thousands of years worldwide. Wheat comes in various varieties, each with its qualities for what its flour is best suited for, such as pasta, bread, or pastries. Growing your wheat grain can help you get closer to self-sufficiency, and the ultimate product is worth the effort.
One pound of wheat seed yields 1.5 bushels of grain or around 90 pounds. Planting and harvesting involve several steps, yet it isn’t too challenging for anyone to grow enough wheat to make flour and bread.
In our guide, any die-hard gardener can learn more about growing wheat without relying on specialized equipment and commercial wheat farmers’ large farms. (Learn How Fast Do Maple Trees Grow)
How Long Does It Take For Seeds To Grow Into Wheat?
Spring wheat growing takes 120 days to grow; winter wheat takes up to 240 days to grow. Here are some basics you’ll need to know, such as sun, temperature, and irrigation needed to grow your own wheat.
Notably, you can’t propagate wheat, and it can only be grown from wheat seeds.
1. Sun and Temperature
Wheat needs plenty of sun, so 6 hours of direct sunlight is ideal as the minimum.
The key to growing wheat is knowing when to sow in the fall or late spring. Wheat prefers temperatures between 55 and 75°F.
Wheat can tolerates cold, although root growth slows, so you’ll need to cover your growing area with mulch in the cooler months to keep the soil temperature up and wheat crop roots warm.
Hot weather above 95°F can shock crops and affect grain filling. To avoid this, harvest grain before the weather reaches 95. This leads to hard winter wheat rather than a hard spring wheat crop in the south and west.
2. Water and Humidity
Once planted, wheat requires little water if the weather is cool. Wheat will thrive if your region receives 12-20 inches of rain during the growing season. If you must water, do so in the early morning or late evening. Every 2-4 weeks, water the plants’ roots. Ensure the soil drains effectively since too much moisture might foster disease growth.
It’s great to use drip irrigation under little wheat plantings. This strategy isn’t employed in commercial agriculture but works great for small-scale ornamentals or cover crops. Small plants get greater sun exposure and require more water to stay moist. Mulch has a similar effect.
Wheat grows in loamy, well-drained soil. This plant may grow in various soil types; however, acidic or poorly drained soils are not ideal. Wheat grows best in soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
Fertilizers can be applied to poor soils to increase crop yield. The most important nutrient for early root and tiller development is phosphorus, but wheatgrass also needs nitrogen for early foliage development.
If you’re planting winter wheat, an early spring nitrogen injection at green-up is usually sufficient if you have phosphorus present in the soil. (Learn How To Get Rid Of Stickers In Your Yard)
No wheat crop should be foliar fed as it can result in leaf blistering and significant crop damage.
Harvesting and Storing
Wheat Seed Head
Each stem will develop a single wheat head, and then you’ll notice the stems start to bend from the heavy grains, and the grass turns brown, which signals it’s close to harvest. Harvesting has several elements required to harvest correctly, which you can only do after seeing the flag leaf (the last leaf showing).
You must test the grains to see if they are mature. Farmers take grain from the head and pinch it or eat it. Solid, crunchy textures are desired, and if the seed is soft, keep checking until the kernels harden.
A small area of less than 150 square feet can be harvested by hand. You’ll need a scythe and cradle or sickle if you have a larger lot.
Sun-dry harvested crops for 7-10 days.
After your harvest dries, it’s time to thresh the grain to remove the chaff from the heads. Hand threshing can be done by flailing or pounding in a clean bin or on a tarp.
Use a plastic bag wrapped around the stalks of small amounts of wheat to knock the seed off.
If you want white flour, one bushel of what delivers around 42 pounds of flour, whereas one bushel of whole wheat will deliver around 60 pounds of whole wheat flour.
Heat, light, moisture, and infection will ruin the grain. However, you can freeze the dried grain and use it for years if you have a little harvest. If it’s completely dry, put it in a food-safe 5-gallon bucket with silica packets to absorb any moisture.
Burlap or ventilated poly bags are common commercial vendors, but these can allow rodents to find and consume your hoard!
Pests and Disease
Aphids are frequent garden pests clustered on the leaves. The leaves curl and streak yellow or white, and the growth slows. Spray the aphids off the leaves with a hose and apply insecticidal oil like neem oil.
Like bacterial leaf streak, many wheat diseases are difficult or impossible to treat. To combat these and other diseases, remove sick plants, clean up the garden after harvest, and use crop rotation with disease-resistant plants.
Powdery mildew grows in high humidity and warm weather. Watering at the base of plants can help prevent the spread of spores. Treat with neem oil or a copper fungicide liquid. (Read Is Powdery Mildew Harmful To Humans)
What Is The Fastest Growing Wheat?
Fast-growing durum wheat is the best in hot climates. You can find durum wheat varieties where wheat is planted to grow during the four hottest months of the year as temperatures reach 35-40 degrees (°C) and too hot for other crops.
After around four months, wheat planted in the spring will be ready to harvest. Because it spends so much of the winter dormant, if planted in the fall, it will be ready to harvest about eight months after planting. Wheat, after two weeks, resembles tall grass.
Winter wheat is planted in the fall, usually between October and December, and grows all winter to be harvested in the spring or early summer.
It takes seven to eight months to grow, and when it does, it creates a beautiful golden contrast in spring gardens.
Wheat is farmed in two seasons: winter wheat and spring wheat, and there are dozens of kinds to choose from.
Winter wheat is harvested in the summer after being seeded in the autumn. Before the cold weather rolls in, it needs a strong root system and the beginnings of shoots.
Wheat is generally an excellent cool-season crop and doesn’t need much water, where 12 and 15 inches of rain across the entire growing season will lead to a healthy crop.
Can you harvest wheat early?
Harvesting can begin as soon as the wheat seeds have passed the milk stage, though the grains must dry and harden before they can be eaten. It’s best to bring harvest time forward if the heads shatter and fall on the ground.
The life cycle of wheat
Seeds, Germination & emergence, tillering, stem elongation, boot, heading & flowering, and grain-fill/ripening are vital wheat growth stages.
How Do You Harvest Wheat Berries by Hand?
- Cut mature wheat stalks using a scythe or sharp machete.
- Pile wheat stalks on a blanket or tarp.
- Run the wheat heads through your hands to release wheat berries.
- Collect your wheat berries in a basket or bucket.
How tall does wheat grow?
Wheat plants grow at the height of 2–4 feet.
How much wheat makes a pound of flour?
If you measure the area needed to make flour, an area of around 10 square feet yields about a pound of wheat, which yields about a pound of flour. A cup of sifted flour is about 4 ounces, and 4 cups of flour make a small loaf of bread. (Learn How To Get Rid Of Maple Tree Helicopters)
If you what whole wheat flour, you’ll change grow wheat that uses all the grain.
What happens to my old wheat stalks after harvest?
Wheat stalks left over after harvesting are inedible to animals, so they are frequently used as cattle bedding or put on fields to restore the soil.
You can even use the stalks as mulch on your lawn when seeding if you grow wheat.
Can you harvest wheat when wet?
Although wheat is commonly harvested in Kentucky with a moisture content of 13 percent to 15 percent, it can be harvested with higher moisture contents if dried rapidly enough to avoid spoiling and sprouting.
Does wheat turn white when it is ready to harvest?
As wheat matures, plants in some field portions may exhibit an off-white appearance comparable to take-all. This is premature death, which could be caused to drowning, hot dry winds, or other stress.
How much wheat do you need for a family of 4?
One acre of wheat produces enough bread to feed a household of four for two years. A 60-pound bushel of wheat generates 42 pounds of white flour, 60 to 73 loaves of bread, or 42 pounds of pasta (depending on loaf size and whole wheat content).
The type of wheat could also make a difference. You’ll find six classes comprising durum, hard and soft white wheat, hard and soft red winter wheat, and hard red spring wheat. (Learn How Long Does It Take To Grow Jalapenos)
Can you grow wheat in raised beds?
Wheat grows best in full sunlight on well-drained loamy soil. Typically your wheat crop is best grown in the ground although some choose to grow wheat in raised beds or large containers.
A tight planting of 25 plants per square foot can be done for small-scale wheat production. Collecting seed heads is made easier by the fact that the entire plant is contained within the container or elevated. bed.