Winter wheat

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Winter wheat is a type of wheat that is planted from September to December in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter wheat sprouts before freezing occurs, then becomes dormant until the soil warms in the spring. Winter wheat needs a few weeks of cold before being able to flower, however persistent snow cover might be disadvantageous. It is ready to be harvested by early July.

Hard winter wheats have a higher gluten protein content than other wheats. They are used to make flour for yeast breads, or are blended with soft spring wheats to make the all-purpose flour used in a wide variety of baked products. Soft wheat is used for specialty or cake flour. Durum, the hardest wheat, is primarily used for making pasta. Almost all durum wheat grown in North America is spring-planted.

Winter wheat is grown throughout Europe, North America, and in northern Asia.

In the United States

It was brought to Kansas by German-Russian Mennonites in the 19th century. Bernhard Warkentin and Mark Carleton played a major part in the spread of winter wheat as a commercial crop. Warkentin organized mills in central Kansas and imported seed from Ukraine to meet growing demand. Carleton worked for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a crop explorer. He went to Russia to find other wheat varieties and worked with Kansas State University researchers to develop new ones. Winter wheat production quickly spread throughout the Great Plains, and was, and still is, usually grown using the techniques of dryland farming.


  • Olaf Christen (Ed.): Winterweizen. Das Handbuch für Profis. DLG-Verlags-GmbH, 1 January 2011, ISBN 978-3-7690-0719-0.

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