Wheat is a widely cultivated grass whose seed is a cereal grain used all over the world as a staple food. Of the thousands of known wheat varieties, the most important are common wheat (Triticum aestivum), durum wheat (T. Durum), and club wheat (T. compactum).
Wheat is cultivated as a cash crop, as it produces a good yield per unit area, grows well in a temperate climate with a moderately short growing season, and yields a versatile, high-quality flour.
Wheat plants have long, slender leaves and stems and many flowers that are borne in groups called spikelets. Wheat can be grown in a variety of climates and soil, but is best grown in temperate regions that receive between 12 and 36 inches (30 to 90 centimeters) of rainfall.
The wheat used for food requires processing, where the grain is cleaned and broken up through the addition of water. Wheat that goes through milling is cracked and passed through rollers to create smaller particles. Almost three-quarters of the milled grain becomes flour. The greatest portion of wheat flour is used to make bread.
Wheat is used to make:
Additionally, wheat can be used for the production of starch, malt, dextrose, gluten, alcohol, and other products.
Wheat is an important source of carbohydrates and is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food with a protein content of about 13%. When wheat is eaten as a whole grain, it is a great source of dietary fiber and nutrients.
Wheat contains a protein called gluten, which can be harmful to those who have Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people. Someone with celiac who consumes gluten will damage their small intestine, leading to medical complications. Gluten can also trigger nonceliac gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia, and dermatitis herpetiformis.
Worldwide Wheat Production
The global trade of wheat is greater than all other crops combined. In 2017, the total global production of wheat was 772 million tons. It is the second-most produced cereal grain behind maize. Based on 2017 data, the European Union is the largest producer of wheat, producing 150.2 million metric tons of wheat. China, India, and Russia, the three largest wheat producers, account for about 41% of the world’s total wheat production.