A Giant-Sized History of Wheat

“It is time to pay tribute to this strange little grass that has done so much for the human race. Strange is the word, for wheat is a genetic monster.”

A typical wheat variety is hexaploid—it has six copies of each gene, where most creatures have two… 

Wheat’s 21 chromosomes contain a massive 16 billion base pairs of DNA, 40 times as much as rice, six times as much as maize and five times as much as people. It is derived from three wild ancestral species in two separate mergers, the result of which was a plant with extra-large seeds incapable of dispersal in the wild, dependent entirely on people to sow them…

Brace yourselves, ’cause I have a feeling Wheat is way more awesome than we realize…

  • Ever since people left Africa for West Asia, about 70,000 BCE, they have probably always eaten wheat.
  • >10,000 BCE:  The ancestors of modern wheat are introduced: Triticum urartu (wild einkorn), Aegilops speltoides, and Aegilops tauschi.
  • Grains of wild emmer discovered at Ohalo II had a radiocarbon dating of 17,000 BCE.
  • Archaeological records suggests that wheat was first cultivated in the regions of the Fertile Crescent around 9,600 BCE.
  • The spread of cultivation of emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum dicoccum) started in the Fertile Crescent sometime before 8,800 BCE.
  • Einkorn wheat was one of the first plants to be domesticated and cultivated.
  • 10,200-9,500 BCE: Definitive evidence for the full domestication of emmer wheat is not found until the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, at sites such as Beidha, Tell Ghoraifé, Jericho, Abu Hureyra, Tell Halula, Tell Aswad and Cafer Höyük.
  • Grains of wild emmer discovered at the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) site of Netiv Hagdud are 10,000-9,400 years old.
  • The earliest clear evidence of the domestication of Einkorn wheat dates from 8,650 BCE to 7,950 BCE from Çayönü and Cafer Höyük, two Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B archaeological sites in southern Turkey.
  • Remains of harvested emmer from several sites near the Karacadag Range have been dated to between 8,600 BCE (at Cayonu) and 8,400 BCE (Abu Hureyra). This era is called the Neolithic period.
  • With the anomalous exception of two grains from Iraq ed-Dubb, the earliest carbon-14 date for einkorn wheat remains at Abu Hureyra is 7,800 to 7,500 years BCE.
  • From its earliest days of cultivation, emmer was a more prominent crop than its cereal contemporaries and competitors, einkorn wheat and barley. Small quantities of emmer are present during Period 1 at Mehrgharh on the Indian subcontinent, showing that emmer was already cultivated there by 7000-5000 BC.
  • 6,700 BCE: In the stone age, man ground grains of wheat with rocks to make flour.
  • The cultivation of emmer wheat reached Greece by 6,500 BCE.
  • The cultivation of emmer wheat reached Cyprus by 6,500 BCE.
  • The cultivation of emmer wheat reached India by 6,500 BCE.
  • The oldest evidence for hexaploid wheat has been confirmed through DNA analysis of wheat seeds, dating to around 6,400-6,200 BCE, recovered from Çatalhöyük.
  • Bread wheat is an allohexaploid (an allopolyploid with six sets of chromosomes: two sets from each of three different species). Of the six sets of chromosomes, two come from Triticum urartu (einkorn wheat) and two from Aegilops speltoides. This hybridisation created the species Triticum turgidum (durum wheat) 5800–8200 years ago.
  • The cultivation of emmer wheat reached Egypt shortly after 6,000 BCE.
  • 5,500 BCE: Millstones used for grinding flour were introduced. The ability to sow and reap cereals may be one of the chief causes which led man to dwell in communities, rather than to live a wandering life hunting and herding cattle
  • The cultivation of emmer wheat reached Germany by 5,000 BCE.
  • The cultivation of emmer wheat reached Spain by 5,000 BCE.
  • The earliest archaeological evidence of spelt is from the fifth millennium BCE in Transcaucasia, north-east of the Black Sea.
  • Spelt (Triticum spelta), also known as dinkel wheat,or hulled wheat, is a species of wheat cultivated since approximately 5,000 BCE.
  • 3,000 BCE: The Egyptians were the first to produce risen loaves using yeast. Their method included used a small amount of old dough, or leaven, to “start” the new dough. Both dough were mixed together and allowed to ferment for some time before baking.
  • The Egyptians were the first to use bread ovens. Bread played an important role in the Egyptian way of life as they paid wages with bread, painted bread-making scenes in their tombs and included bread in tombs to provide food for the afterlife.
  • By 3,000 BCE, wheat had reached the British Isles and Scandinavia.
  • Wheat grass can be traced back in history over 5000 years, to ancient Egypt and perhaps even early Mesopotamian civilizations.
  • In the Near East, in southern Mesopotamia in particular, cultivation of emmer wheat began to decline in the Early Bronze Age, from about 3000 BC, and barley became the standard cereal crop.
  • In northeastern Europe, emmer (in addition to einkorn and barley) was one of the most important cereal species and this importance can be seen to increase from 3400 BCE onwards.
  • The last two sets of chromosomes that make up bread wheat came from wild goat-grass Aegilops tauschii 2300–4300 years ago.
  • Remnants of Einkorn have been found with the iceman mummy Ötzi, dated 5,300 years ago.
  • Ancient Chinese writings from 2,700 BCE describe growing wheat.
  • Remains of spelt have been found in some later Neolithic sites (2500–1700 BC) in Central Europe.
  • During the Bronze Age, spelt spread widely in central Europe.
  • In the British Isles, wheat straw (thatch) was used for roofing in the Bronze Age (2,000 BCE – 500 BCE), and was in common use until the late 19th century.
  • Around 1,500 BCE, scientists in ancient Egypt developed a new kind of wheat. Bakers could mix the wheat with yeast from beer-making and make risen bread.
  • By 1,500 BCE, people were growing wheat in China, but not for bread. They didn’t have the right kind of wheat for risen bread. Instead, people made noodles, which needed much less fuel to cook.
  • The seventh plague in Egypt (Bible, Book of Exodus) did not damage the harvest of wheat and spelt, as these were “late crops.”
  • The first identifiable bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) with sufficient gluten for yeasted breads has been identified using DNA analysis in samples from a granary dating to approximately 1,350 BCE at Assiros in Macedonia.
  • 1,000 BCE: Developments in milling techniques began with the invention of the rotary mill, which made better quality flour.
  • In the Iron Age (750–15 BC), spelt became a principal wheat species in southern Germany and Switzerland.
  • By 500 BC, spelt was in common use in southern Britain.
  • The philosopher Socrates (c. 470 BCE) said, “No man qualifies as a statesman who is entirely ignorant on the problems of wheat.”
  • 200 BCE: The Romans started to use animal power to grind wheat.
  • The main wheat during the time of the Roman empire was emmer, which has recently made a comeback in gourmet cooking as farro.
  • Innovations came slowly in wheat farming. The horse collar arrived in the third century BC, in China. By not pressing on the animal’s windpipe, it enabled the animal to drag greater weight—and faster than an ox.
  • 168 BCE: The Roman Baker’s Guild, or Pistorum, was created. The importance of bread to daily life meant that bakers were recognized as freemen of the city. All other craftsmen were slaves.
  • In Horace’s Satire 2.6 (late 31–30 BC), which ends with the story of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse, the country mouse eats spelt at dinner while serving his city guest finer foods.
  • Botanists of the classical period, such as Columella (AD 4-70), divided wheats into two groups, Triticum corresponding to free-threshing wheats, and Zea corresponding to hulled (‘spelt’) wheats.
  • Pliny the Elder (c. 50 AD), noted that, although emmer was called far in his time, formerly it was called adoreum (or “glory”), providing an etymology explaining that emmer had been held in glory.
  • In AD 79, a baker put his loaf of bread into the oven. Nearly 2,000 years later it was found during excavations in Herculaneum. The British Museum asked Giorgio Locatelli to recreate the recipe.
  • The oldest reference to wheat gluten appears in the Qimin Yaoshu, a Chinese agricultural encyclopedia written by Jia Sixie in 535. The encyclopedia mentions noodles prepared from wheat gluten called bo duo.
  • Wheat gluten was known as mian jin by the Song dynasty (960–1279) of China.
  • Wheat didn’t arrive in the United States until after the early voyages of Christopher Columbus.
  • 1660: Wheat type Red Lammas is introduced.
  • The first attested use of grünkern was in southern Germany, (Amorbach), in 1660. Grünkern was added to soups and was dried by using the residual heat of bakehouses.
  • In Chilean historiography, the wheat cycle (Spanish: ciclo triguero) refers to two episodes of booming wheat exports and related changes in society and agriculture. The first cycle occurred from 1687 to the independence wars of the early 1800’s, and was caused by heavy demand in Peru.
  • Chile has a history of exporting cereals to Peru dating back to 1687, when Peru was struck by both an earthquake and a stem rust epidemic. Chilean soil and climatic conditions were better for cereal production than those of Peru, and Chilean wheat was cheaper and of better quality than Peruvian wheat.
  • In 1701, the Berkshire farmer Jethro Tull devised a simple seed drill based on organ pipes, which resulted in eight times as many grains harvested for every grain sown.
  • Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) recognized five species of wheat: T. aestivum (Bearded spring wheat), T. hybernum (Beardless winter wheat), T. turgidum (Rivet wheat), T. spelta (Spelt wheat), and T. monococcum (Einkorn wheat).
  • The importance of wheat had led the 18th century in Chile to be labelled the wheat century (Spanish: siglo del trigo).
  • De Frumento, an Italian treatise on wheat from 1745, describes the process of washing wheat flour dough in order to extract the gluten.
  • Wheat arrived in the American colonies in 1777. The colonists, however, planted wheat as a hobby crop rather than a food crop.
  • In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus predicted a population growth crash based on the calculation that it was impossible to improve wheat yields quickly enough to feed to the world.
  • In the early 1800s, Napoleon could not feed his troops because their rapid advance caused them to leave grain behind.
  • John Imison wrote an English-language definition of wheat gluten in his Elements of Science and Art published in 1803.
  • It was not until the 1800’s that yeast was identified as an organism that converts sugars into alcohol, producing a leavening gas (carbon dioxide) in the process. Because wheat is the only grain with sufficient gluten content to make leavened bread, wheat quickly became favored over other grains grown at the time, such as oats, millet, rice, and barley.
  • 1814: Exports of wheat and flour from the US totaled 868,500 bushels.
  • In 1815, a gigantic volcanic eruption at Tambora in Indonesia led to the famous “year without a summer”. New England had frosts in July. France had bitter cold in August. Wheat prices reached a level that would never be seen again in real terms, nearly $3 a bushel.
  • It was eventually discovered that milling wheat grains (stripping away the germ and the bran) allowed for the grains to be kept longer and also produced a soft, unadulterated white flour. By the early 1800s, many mills were equipment so that they could produce this refined flour.
  • By the 1830s, Western doctors were recommending wheat gluten in diets for diabetics.
  • 1830: About 250-300 labor-hours are required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with “modern” farm tools: the walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle, and flail.
  • The invention of the mechanical reaper by Cyrus McCormick in 1831 made it possible to harvest wheat much more efficiently. By hand, farmers could cut only two acres of wheat per day. With Cyrus McCormick’s invention of the mechanical reaper, farmers could cut eight acres a day.
  • The census of 1840 showed Ohio as the premier wheat-producing state in the US.
  • 1840s: Factory-made agricultural machinery increases farmers’ need for cash and encourages commercial farming.
  • 1841: The practical grain drill was patented.
  • 1842: The first grain elevator was in Buffalo, NY.
  • 1842: Wheat type Red Fife is introduced.
  • Self-rising flour was invented by Henry Jones and patented in 1845.
  • A “hard spring wheat” variety (originally from Central Europe) with a higher protein content (aka gluten) was introduced in the US in the mid-1800s. The flour made from the higher gluten wheat resulted in fluffier bread and flakier baked goods.
  • 1850-1870: Expanded market for agricultural products spurs adoption of improved technology resulting in increased farm production.
  • 1850-1900: To meet the demands of the growing population, long-lasting flour was needed. Those elements that spoiled the flour, the outer bran and germ layer, were taken out, although these contained most of the wheat’s nutrients.
  • In Chilean historiography, the wheat cycle (Spanish: ciclo triguero) refers to two episodes of booming wheat exports and related changes in society and agriculture. The second cycle started in the mid-19th century, fueled by the California and Australian gold rushes, and ended definitively during the Long depression in the 1870s.
  • 1850-1900: The methods for making bread changed as silk sieves were introduced and square or oblong baking tins were invented to make it easier to slice bread.
  • The census of 1860 showed Illinois as the premier wheat-producing state in the US.
  • Red Fife was the baking and milling industries standard of ‘wheat’ in Canada from 1860 to 1900.
  • 1862-75: The change from hand-power to horse-derived power characterizes the first American agricultural revolution.
  • The Civil War (1861-1865) is described as a victory of bread over cotton. The North had cereal grains to feed their troops and to trade with Europe whereas the South had non-edible cotton.
  • 1868: Wheat type Squareheads Master is introduced.
  • Until the 1870s, almost all US wheat production consisted of “soft wheat” varieties.
  • In 1873, Wilson cross-pollinated rye and wheat to create triticale.
  • Some devastating explosions have occurred at flour mills, including an explosion in 1878 at the Washburn “A” Mill in Minneapolis which killed 22 people.
  • Red wheat was transplanted to North America by Russian Mennonites between 1874 and 1884.
  • It wasn’t until the late 19th century that wheat production and consumption grew dramatically.
  • In 1880, May Yates founded the Bread Reform League in London to promote a return to wholemeal bread, particularly to improve the nutrition of the children of the poor.
  • Sanitarium Foods, a company affiliated with John Harvey Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium, advertised wheat gluten in 1882.
  • Research Plot 2, located on the North Dakota State University campus in Fargo, North Dakota, was established in 1882 and has sown wheat continuously since that date. The plot is known as the oldest continuously cultivated wheat field site used in research. It is valuable for its long history because its soil is then particularly “ripe” with soil pathogens relevant for testing new varieties of wheat.
  • 1884-90: The horse-drawn combine was first used in Pacific coast wheat areas.
  • In 1889, Minnesota became the top wheat-producing state in the US.
  • Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat were introduced around 1890.
  • 1890s: Agriculture becomes increasingly mechanized and commercialized.
  • 1890: Wheat type Browick is introduced.
  • Spelt was introduced to the United States in the 1890s.
  • Henry Perky invented shredded wheat cereal in Denver, Colorado, in 1890.
  • 1890: 40-50 labor-hours were required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with “modern” tools: gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher, wagons, and horses.
  • Companies such as Kellogg and Post created breakfast cereals using wheat in the late 1890s.
  • 1892: The first gasoline tractor was built by John Froelich.
  • 1898: Exports of wheat and flour from the US totaled 223.8 million bushels.
  • In 1898, in a speech to the British Association, chemist Sir William Crookes argued that worldwide starvation was inevitable within a generation. Population was rising fast. There was little new land to plough. Famines became worse each season, especially in Asia.
  • Aaron Aaronsohn (1876-1919) was the discoverer of emmer (Triticum dicoccoides), believed to be “the mother of wheat.”
  • The Triscuit was invented in 1900.
  • In the early 1900’s it was discovered that traditional long fermentation times could be reduced from 18 to 3–4 hours by the use of very small amounts of certain chemicals, called oxidants, in bread or flour. Oxidants, when added to dough, not only sped up the process but also produced a superior loaf.
  • Over the 1900’s crop breeding advances increased the quality and yield of wheat and production became more efficient due to improvements in management and mechanization. Inorganic fertilisers have boosted yield and quality, and crop protection has improved such that less of the yield is lost to pests, disease, and weeds.
  • Thomas Allinson (1858-1918) is regarded as the father of the wholegrain movement.
  • William James Farrer (1845-1906) was the leading Australian agronomist and plant breeder who created the “Federation” strain of wheat, which was distributed in 1903.
  • The ‘Marquis’ bread wheat cultivar was developed by Dominion Agriculturalist Charles Saunders in 1904.
  • The Montana Elevator Co. was founded in 1904 as a wheat farmer co-operative for Montana, with their first elevator in Lewistown, Montana.
  • On July 2nd, 1909, with the help of an engineer named Carl Bosch from the BASF company, Fritz Haber succeeded in combining nitrogen (from the air) with hydrogen (from coal) to make ammonia. In a few short years, BASF had scaled up the process to factory size and the sky could be mined for nitrogen.
  • In 1909, May Yates of London proposed that an official minimum standard of 80% flour extraction rate should be adopted in wholemeal bread. This was called ‘Standard Bread.’
  • From 1909-1919, North Dakota was the top US wheat producer.
  • Thomas D. Campbell (1882-1966) was the “World’s Wheat King.” On the farms of his Campbell Farming Corporation he grew more wheat than any other farmer or corporation at that time.
  • Early maturing wheat variety Marquis was introduced to the US from Canada in 1912.
  • 1916: Wheat type Yeoman is introduced.
  • In the 20th century, spelt was replaced by bread wheat in almost all areas where it was still grown.
  • It wasn’t until the 1920’s that the art and science of wheat breeding begun in the United States.
  • 1920’s: It was discovered that wheat was divided into 3 ploidy levels.
  • From 1919-1975, Kansas was the top US wheat producer.
  • The exact origin of Khorasan wheat remains unknown. Described by John Percival in 1921, this ancient grain likely originates from the Fertile Crescent and derives its common name from the historical province of Khorasan which included a large portion of northeastern Iran into Afghanistan and Central Asia to the river Oxus.
  • President Hoover (1929-1933) is quoted as saying, “The first word in war is spoken by guns, the last word has always been spoken by bread.”
  • 1928: Otto Rohwedder introduced his bread-slicing machine.
  • By 1929, wheat variety Marquis made up 87% of the hard spring wheat acreage in the United States.
  • 1930: 15-20 labor-hours were required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with “modern” tools: 3-bottom gang plow, tractor, 10-foot tandem disk, harrow, 12-foot combine, and trucks.
  • 1930’s: Once requisite vitamins were discovered and better understood, we began enriching flour with Iron, Niacin, Thiamine and Riboflavin.
  • Tenmarq, released by the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station in 1932, superseded wheat variety Turkey.
  • The consumption of wheatgrass in the Western world began in the 1930s as a result of experiments conducted by Charles Schnabel.
  • After 1934, wheat variety Thatcher became popular in the US.
  • Although the range of recognized types of wheat has been reasonably stable since the 1930s, there are now sharply differing views as to whether these should be recognized at species level (traditional approach) or at subspecific level (genetic approach).
  • 1936: Wheat type Holdfast is introduced.
  • Wheat type Norin 10 was found in Japan before WWII.
  • 1937: an entire pamphlet of recipes using Cream of Wheat instead of meat was published in the US, with the slogan “Stretch Your Meat With Cream of Wheat.”
  • The rise and fall in wheat consumption during World War II correlated to the increase and decline in the number of schizophrenia patients admitted to hospitals.
  • The first steps toward the creation of CIMMYT were taken in 1943 when cooperative efforts of the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation led to the founding of the Office of Special Studies, an organization within the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture, now known as the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food.
  • 1944: US wheat production reached one billion bushels.
  • 1945-1970: The change from horses to tractors and other agtech innovations characterize the second American agricultural revolution.
  • Cecil Salmon, biologist and wheat expert on General Douglas MacArthur’s team in Japan after 1945, collected 16 varieties of wheat including one called “Norin 10,” and sent these seeds to Orville Vogel.
  • 1946: Wheat type Cappelle-Desprez is introduced.
  • Khorasan wheat was reintroduced in modern times thanks to an American airman, who sent grains from Egypt to his family in Montana (USA) in 1949. According to a legend, those grains were found in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, hence the nickname “King Tut’s Wheat.”
  • The International Grains Council (IGC) is an international organization established on March 23, 1949 as the International Wheat Council (IWC) at the initiative of the U.S. government for the purpose of egalitarian distribution of wheat to countries in a state of emergency.
  • The connection between celiac disease and wheat ingestion was not made until 1950.
  • Founded in 1950, The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) is an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. that supports the collective interests of wheat farmers in the United States.
  • In the 1950s, a growing awareness of the genetic similarity of wild goatgrasses (Aegilops) to wheat led some botanists to amalgamate Aegilops and Triticum as one genus, Triticum.
  • In 1952, Norman Borlaug was breeding fungus-resistant wheat for a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • 1954: The number of tractors on farms exceeded the number horses and mules for the first time.
  • In the 20th century, global wheat output expanded by about 5-fold, but until about 1955 most of this reflected increases in wheat crop area, with lesser (about 20%) increases in crop yields per unit area.
  • Scientists introduced wheat type Norin 10 to the US in the 1950’s, when it spread across the world.
  • After 1955, there was a ten-fold increase in the rate of wheat yield improvement per year, and this became the major factor allowing global wheat production to increase.
  • 1955: 6.5 labor-hours were required to produce 100 bushels (4 acres) of wheat with “modern” tools: tractor, 10- foot plow, 12-foot row weeder, harrow, 14-foot drill, self-propelled combine and trucks.
  • 1959: Wheat type Champlein is introduced.
  • 1959: Bowden argued that forms of wheat that were inter-fertile should be treated as one species (the biological species concept).
  • 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.
  • In 1962, wheat gluten was sold as seitan in Japan by Marushima Shoyu K.K.
  • By 1963, 95% of Mexico’s wheat was Norman Borlaug’s variety, and the country’s wheat harvest was six times what it had been previously.
  • Maris Widgeon is a heritage variety of wheat that has traditionally been used for thatching in the UK. This variety was developed in 1964 by the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridgeshire. The ‘Maris’ in the name, was derived from Maris Lane, the address of PBI headquarters in Trumpington, Cambridge.
  • 1965: Five labor-hours were required to produce 100 bushels (3 acres) of wheat with “modern” tools: tractor, 12- foot plow, 14-foot drill, 14-foot self-propelled combine, and trucks.
  • Wheat type Norin 10 became popular in the UK in the 1960’s.
  • In the late 1960s, Chris and Fortuna wheat varieties became popular in the US.
  • “The big thing that happened in the 20th Century for wheat was dwarfing.”
  • 1966: US wheat and flour exports reached 858.7 million bushels, of which some 571 million were disposed of as food aid for global disaster relief.
  • In 1970, Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for firing the first shot in what came to be called the “green revolution.”
  • Wheat consumption in the US saw a huge increase with the rise of the fast food industry in the 1970’s and 80’s.
  • 1971: Wheat type Maris Huntsman is introduced.
  • 1975: 3.75 labor-hours were required to produce 100 bushels (3 acres) of wheat with “modern” tools: tractor, 30-foot sweep disk, 27-foot drill, 22-foot self-propelled combine, and trucks.
  • In 1977, Mack and Bob Quinn, two farmers from Montana, decided to cultivate the ancient grain Khorasan wheat.
  • When recombinant DNA techniques were developed in the 1980s, work began on creating the first transgenic wheat.
  • Interest in growing heritage wheat started with Sharon Rempel in the mid 1980s, when she planted a “Living Museum of Wheat” at a living history site in Keremeos B.C. Canada.
  • 1985: Wheat type Brimstone is introduced.
  • 1987: Three labor-hours were required to produce 100 bushels (3 acres) of wheat with “modern” tools: tractor, 35-foot sweep disk, 30-foot drill, 25-foot self-propelled combine, and trucks.
  • Of the three most important cereals in the world (corn, rice and wheat), wheat was the last to be transformed by transgenic, biolistic methods in 1992.
  • In 1990, Mack and Bob Quinn registered the protected cultivated turanicum variety QK-77 as the trademark Kamut ®.
  • 1990’s: Folic Acid was added to the list of vitamins enriching flour (Iron, Niacin, Thiamine, and Riboflavin were added in the 1930’s). These are of course the nutrients contained in the wheat germ which was removed during the roller milling process. In stone ground “white” flour there is no need for enrichment.
  • 1993: Wheat type Consort is introduced.
  • Van Slageren’s 1994 classification system for wheat is probably the most widely used genetic-based classification at present.
  • The first reference to ancient grains as a health food was in Daily News (New York) in 1996.
  • Of the three most important cereals in the world (corn, rice and wheat), wheat was the last to be transformed by Agrobacterium methods in 1997.
  • The tonnage (though not the acreage) of maize harvested in the world began to consistently exceed that of wheat starting in 1998.
  • In 1998, average US farm operating costs were $1.43 per bushel of wheat, and total costs were $3.97 per bushel. In that study, farm wheat yields averaged 41.7 bushels per acre (2.2435 metric ton/hectare), and typical total wheat production value was $31,900 per farm, with total farm production value (including other crops) of $173,681 per farm, plus $17,402 in government payments.
  • The tonnage (though not the acreage) of rice harvested in the world began to consistently exceed that of wheat starting in 1999.
  • By 1999, the global average seed use of wheat was about 6% of output.
  • AWB Limited was a major grain marketing organisation based in Australia. It was a government body known as the Australian Wheat Board until 1 July 1999, when the AWB was transformed into a private company, owned by wheat growers.
  • In 1999, scientists in Thailand claimed they discovered glyphosate-resistant wheat in a grain shipment from the Pacific Northwest of the United States, even though transgenic wheat had never been approved for sale and was only ever grown in test plots. No one could explain how the transgenic wheat got into the food supply.
  • 2001: Wheat type Xi-19 is introduced.
  • In 2007, the total world wheat harvest was about 607 m tonnes compared with 652 m tonnes of rice and 785 m tonnes of corn.
  • More than 160,000 U.S. farms, according to the 2007 Agriculture Census, in 42 states contribute to global wheat production. Most of those farms, about two thirds, were in the Great Plains from Texas to Montana.
  • Folk musician Phil Vernon wrote a song entitled ‘Red Fife Wheat’ for Canada’s first “Bread and Wheat” festival, held in Victoria, British Columbia in 2008.
  • In 2010, AWB was acquired by the Canadian firm Agrium, and in 2011 the company changed its name to Agrium Asia Pacific Limited.
  • In 2010, Monsanto’s partner in India, Mahyco, announced that it planned to seek approval to market GM wheat in India in the next three to five years.
  • In 2011, the gluten-free food market was valued at $1.6 billion.
  • Gananoque Brewing in Ontario produced the first Red Fife beer in 2012.
  • The largest exporters of wheat in 2013 were, in order of exported quantities: United States (33.2 million tonnes), Canada (19.8 million tonnes), France (19.6 million tonnes), Australia (18 million tonnes), and the Russian Federation (13.8 million tonnes).
  • The largest importers of wheat in 2013 were, in order of imported quantities: Egypt (10.3 million tonnes), Brazil (7.3 million tonnes), Indonesia (6.7 million tonnes), Algeria (6.3 million tonnes) and Japan (6.2 million tonnes).
  • As of 2013, 34 field trials of GM wheat had taken place in Europe and 419 had taken place in the US.
  • In 2013, a strain of genetically-engineered glyphosate-resistant wheat was found on a farm in Oregon.
  • In 2013, a new brown rice Triscuit made of whole grain brown rice and wheat was introduced.
  • As of July 2013, the members of the International Grains Council were: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Egypt, European Union, Holy See (Vatican City), India, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, South Korea, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and United States of America.
  • In 2014, the most productive crop yields for wheat were in Ireland, producing 10 tonnes per hectare.
  • In 2014, General Mills launched a product containing called “Cheerios + Ancient Grains.”
  • Wheat breeder Sanjaya Rajaram, who worked with both CIMMYT and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), won the World Food Prize in 2014 for producing a “prodigious” 480 wheat varieties, which produce yields that are estimated to feed more than 1 billion people a year.
  • In 2014, wheat was grown on more land area than any other food crop (220.4 million hectares).
  • In 2014, McDonald’s offered an Ebly (wheat berries) salad for its upscale menu in Switzerland
  • 47% of the world’s total wheat production in 2014 came from only four countries – China, India, Russia, and the US.
  • The average annual world farm yield for wheat in 2014 was 3.3 tonnes per hectare (330 grams per square meter).
  • Scientist Ravi Singh, wheat breeder, won the China Friendship Award in 2015.
  • In 2016, world production of wheat was 749 million tonnes, making it the second most-produced cereal after corn.
  • A diduch, or didukh, is a Ukrainian Christmas decoration made from a sheaf of wheat.
  • No GM wheat had been approved for release anywhere in the world.
  • Ezekiel 4:9 says: “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof …”
  • Each of the over 200 varieties of wheat grown in the U.S. are divided into classes according to three distinguishing features: growing habits of the wheat plant, color of the wheat kernel, and texture of the ripened grain.
  • The United States produces six distinct classifications of wheat, each with unique characteristics influencing the intended end use.
  • The six official classes of US wheat are: Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Soft Red Winter, Soft White, Hard White, and Durum.
  • Hard Red Winter Wheat is used for yeast breads and hard rolls.
  • Hard Red Spring Wheat is used for yeast breads and hard rolls and blending with lesser protein wheats.
  • Soft Red Winter Wheat is used for flat breads, cakes, pastries, and crackers.
  • Soft White Wheat is used for flat breads, cakes, pastries, and crackers.
  • Hard White Wheat is a relatively new wheat class being developed and is used for yeast breads, hard rolls, and noodles.
  • Durum Wheat is used for pasta and macaroni.
  • Wikipedia lists 73 “Coats of Arms” containing wheat, from the National Emblem of the Peoples Republic of China to Tennessee’s State Seal.
  • Bulgur wheat is mentioned in Jimmy Buffett’s song “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
  • Although wheat is planted and harvested almost every day somewhere in the world, the United States has the resources and infrastructure to provide its citizens and the world with the most abundant, reliable, and safest supply of wheat in the world.
  • Durum wheat, from the Latin word for hard, is the hardest of all wheat classes with amber-colored kernels larger than those of other wheat classes. Durum has a high protein content about 12% to 15%.
  • Many people across this globe depend on wheat to survive, just as they have for over 10,000 years.

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