By Kurt Nolte

Yuma County grew about 37,700 acres of Durum wheat in 2005 valued at over $16 million. The Yuma area ranks number one in wheat production in Arizona, averaging more than 3 tons of grain per acre.

One bushel of wheat contains approximately 1 million individual kernels.

One bushel of wheat yields enough flour for 73 one-pound loaves of white bread or 42 pounds of pasta.

A bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 pounds.

A modern combine can harvest 1,000 bushels of wheat per hour.

Wheat is grown in 42 states in the United States.

Their is approximately 5 cents worth of wheat in each loaf of bread sold.

More foods are made with wheat than any other cereal grain.

The wheat kernel, sometimes called the wheat berry, is the seed from which the wheat plant grows.

Wheat is not native to the United States and was not even grown by the colonists.

Wheat was first planted in the United States in 1777 as a hobby crop.

Wheat yields have improved by approximately one-half bushel per acre each year since 1900.

New uses of wheat include cat litter, wheat concrete, biodegradable spoons and forks, dog treats, hand cleaners, soap shampoo. and biodegradable plastic wrap.

Between 60 and 63 million acres of wheat are harvested each year in the United States. If all the acres were side by side the wheat fields would cover more than 100,000 square miles, and area 10 times the size of the state of Vermont, twice as big as all the new England States, or one-third the size of the state of Texas.

A new variety of wheat can take as long as 17 years to develop before it is available for farmers to plant.

The U.S. is the largest exporter of wheat in the world.

About 50% of the world’s potential wheat consumers live in the U.S.

The workers who built the pyramids in Egypt were paid in bread.

In 1998 the United States added folic acid to all enriched grain foods, including bread. Folic acid is a key ingredient in preventing serious birth defects.

A one and a half pound loaf of commercial wheat bread contains 24 slices.

The only way to have sliced bread before 1930 was to do it by hand.

It is reported that as early as 6,700 B.C. man ground grins with rocks for nourishment.

Approximately three-quarters of all U.S. grain products are made from wheat flour.

One acre  of land, or one football field, can grow enough wheat to make bread for your family for almost 12 years.

Wheat foods are considered a reliable source of iron, which transports oxygen to every cell in your body.

Imagine living in a world without bread and grains. No sandwiches filled with peanut butter and jelly. No smell of rolls welcoming you to the dinner table. A world without bread and grains would not just be a lonely place, it would be an unhealthy place as well.

Though there are many different varieties of wheat grown throughout the world, such as Soft/Hard/White/Red, there are only two main classifications of wheat, winter and spring. Winter wheat is planted in the winter and Spring wheat is planted in the spring, hence the names.

Each particular type of wheat, Hard Red, Soft Red, Durum and White, requires slightly different climatic conditions for growth and is best suited for each type. The most prevalent class of wheat grown in the United States is Hard Red Winter wheat, grown predominantly in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle. The cold, sub zero winters and the general lack of precipitation makes these regions of the country ideal for Hard Red Winter wheat production. The primary use of Hard Red Winter wheat is flour for bread making.

Soft Red Wheat is gown in more humid environments, and is used to make cakes, cookies, snack foods, crackers and pastries.

The primary wheat variety grown in the Yuma area is Durum and White Wheat. Durum wheat has the hardest of all the wheat kernels. It contains the highest proportion of protein of any of the classes of wheat and is primarily used in the production of spaghetti, macaroni and other various pastas. Due to its high protein content, Durum wheat flour is not suitable for breads or pastries.

Due to the difference in quality among many types of wheat, millers typically blend fours to achieve a consistent product time after time. Readily available to most home bakers, all purpose flour is actually a blend of hard and soft wheat flours.

Regardless of the type of wheat, milling just the endosperm of wheat kernels yields white flour. The process also removes so much natural nutrients and vitamins that subsequent enrichment can never completely replace them. Therefore, enriched white bread is by no means nutritionally equal to whole wheat bread.

Compared to whole wheat flour, white flour has a longer shelf life, contains more protein, and is more digestible.

To produce whole wheat flour the entire wheat kernels that include the fibrous bran, nutritious and fatty embryo or germ, and the starchy endosperm are ground uniformly.

All fours tend to lose moisture during storage. Moisture content also varies by brands and seasons. Therefore, as home bakers of breads, cakes, and cookies, we may sometimes need to adjust the amount of flour used in a particular recipe. This is to maintain a desirable four to liquid ratio.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904. For additional information please visit https://extension.arizona.edu/yuma.