From Field to Flour: How to Grow Wheat

Learn about the types of wheat and how to grow wheat in your garden or on your homestead.

| April/May 2014

  • Shocks of Wheat
    Shocks of wheat cure in a field on a misty morning.
    Photo by Dreamstime/Mpetersheim
  • Spelt Berries
    A handful of spelt berries, ready to be sown.
    Photo by Scott Vlaun
  • Small Wheat Plot
    A small plot of wheat in your garden can yield a surprising amount of wheat berries.
    Photo by Rosalind Creasy
  • Man Planting Grain
    Don Webb uses a team of Belgian Draft horses and an antique grain drill to plant spelt in Pittston, Maine.
    Photo by Scott Vlaun
  • Wheat in 'Milk' Stage.
    Wheat changing from the "dough" stage to the "milk stage" just before harvest.
    Photo courtesy Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Man Chewing Wheat
    A man chews a wheat berry to see if it's ready for harvest. If it's crisp, it's ready.
    Photo courtesy Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Man Scything Wheat
    A work party harvests a wheat plot on Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, Mass.
    Photo by Barry J. Goldberg
  • Hand Sickle
    A hand sickle can be used to harvest a small plot of wheat.
    Photo by Dreamstime/Boris Akhunov
  • Women Harvesting Wheat
    Rachel Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, Mass., teaches volunteers how to harvest wheat.
    Photo by Barry J. Goldberg
  • Man Using Thresher
    A treadle-powered thresher speeds processing time for small-scale grain growers.
    Photo courtesy The Back to The Land Store
  • Loaves of Homemade Bread
    You'll experience a rush of satisfaction when you bake bread from your homegrown wheat.
    Photo by Fotolia/Manuel Calle
  • GrainMaker Grain Mill With Homestead Huller Kit
    The GrainMaker Model No. 99 mill can be used with the Homestead Huller Kit to remove the hulls of the ancient wheat varieties you grow, including einkorn, emmer and spelt.
    Photo courtesy GrainMaker

  • Shocks of Wheat
  • Spelt Berries
  • Small Wheat Plot
  • Man Planting Grain
  • Wheat in 'Milk' Stage.
  • Man Chewing Wheat
  • Man Scything Wheat
  • Hand Sickle
  • Women Harvesting Wheat
  • Man Using Thresher
  • Loaves of Homemade Bread
  • GrainMaker Grain Mill With Homestead Huller Kit

Pretty much anywhere in North America, growing wheat is easy if you have a modest-sized plot of unshaded ground, the right seed, and the help of a few small implements.

Depending on your weather conditions and your growing practices, a small plot of wheat — say 500 square feet — should yield 15 to 50 pounds of grain. Yes, that’s a pretty wide range, but soils, rainfall, temperatures, storms, diseases, pests and plain luck can vary from place to place and year to year. Those forces dramatically influence wheat’s yield and quality. But your yield starts with your choice of which varieties of wheat to sow.

Choose a Variety

After you’ve decided to grow wheat, you’ll need to make three initial choices: winter or spring type, red-grained or white-grained, and free-threshing or hulled (with the hull intact). For details on various types of wheat, including durum, spelt, emmer and einkorn, read Types of Wheat: What to Grow and How to Use It.

Winter wheats are sown in fall and harvested the following spring or summer. Spring wheats, which can be either common or durum wheats, are bred for Canadian and northerly U.S. regions where wheat can’t survive through winter; they are sown in early spring and harvested in summer. The seasonal labels are important: A winter variety that does not experience cold weather will produce no grain, while a spring variety sown in fall will die in winter freezes (unless you’re in a frost-free region, where spring wheat varieties can be fall-sown).



The choice between red or white wheat is less consequential, unless you’re growing wheat in an area with high summer rainfall. Under those conditions, white wheat kernels are more susceptible to premature sprouting in the head than red ones. Even a slight start on sprouting can ruin the bread-making quality of wheat grain.

Depending on the region, a wide range of diseases and pests can plague wheat. Recently developed varieties tend to have better resistance than older ones. That is not always true, however, and almost every variety has an Achilles’ heel or two. If you are risk-averse, avoid varieties that are especially susceptible to diseases that often strike wheat in your area. Ask your local farm supplier or extension office to recommend resistant varieties.

jrny4wrd
6/11/2014 11:01:23 AM

I live in Asheville NC. Today I had found a small patch of wheat growing in a narrow strip of trees between 2 driveways. It was right along a footpath cutting through to the next road and it did get a decent amount of Sun. I know everyone talks about how wheat has been developed and highbred so much that it is no longer good for you. I want to express that many cultivated plants go rogue and many eventually form back to their wild genes. As with any culture that is not babies and taken care of plants eventually use their strengths and the wekness fall away. It's also very dangerous to believe every bit of info the health food market lists, as to they are also marketing. It's much more simple to manipulate a market of people with agenda and focus. Anyhow, The berries are very full and since this species has gone wild with no help I wish to collect the berries for a perma "garden". How would be the best way to know when they are fully ripe enough to collect? What would be the best way to save them for when I move?


Mindy
5/27/2014 12:34:59 PM

Hello to Mother Earth News Editors, I am curious if you guys have come across information about the history of wheat and how unhealthy it now is for us humans? It's history is quite interesting. I'd be very interested to hear what you think about the following article and other's like it. Please do read it when you are able. I am still learning. I think that it is worth considering with such an epidemic of illness in our country (and others'). http://www.greenmedinfo.com/page/dark-side-wheat-new-perspectives-celiac-disease-wheat-intolerance-sayer-ji Thanks so much!


millionairesociety25
5/24/2014 4:54:22 PM

Great post https://medium.com/the-millionaire-society-s-millionaire-society/24bd64027516







Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters