Ag 101: Agriculture Facts About Wheat

Photo by J. Patrick Phelan

Photo by J. Patrick Phelan

Wheat is one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops, and it was first planted in the United States in 1777 as a hobby crop. Wheat is the primary grain used in U.S. grain products. A member of the grass family, wheat produces a small, dry, one-seeded fruit, called the kernel. Learn more about this important U.S. crop.

Top Wheat Producing States
In 2012, U.S. farmers harvested 2.26 billion bushels of wheat on almost 49 million acres. Wheat is grown in 42 states, and Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, Washington and Oklahoma had the highest value of wheat production in 2012.

How is wheat used?
There are six major classes of wheat, each with a different end use. Learn more about the common wheat classes grown in the U.S.

  1. The most dominant class of wheat grown, Hard Red Winter Wheat is used to produce bread, rolls and, to a lesser extent, sweet goods and all-purpose flour. It’s also the most-exported class of wheat.
  2. Hard Red Spring Wheat grows mostly in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota. It has the highest protein percentage, making it good for baking.
  3. Mostly grown east of the Mississippi River, Soft Red Winter is used for flat breads, cakes and crackers.
  4. Soft White Wheat is grown mostly in the Pacific Northwest and used as a flour for baking cakes, crackers, cookies, pastries, muffins and snack foods.
  5. The newest class grown in the U.S., Hard White Wheat has a milder, sweeter flavor and used mainly in yeast breads, hard rolls, tortillas and oriental noodles.
  6.  Durum Wheat grows mostly in North Dakota and is used to make semolina flour for pasta production.

42 pounds of flour: One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour.

Source: National Association of Wheat Growers, Wheat Foods Council, Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers