Wheat growing on the Highclere Estate
It is the world's most important crop.
Today's wheat crops can trace their origin back over 10,000 years to the 'einkorn' and 'emmer' wheats that grew wild in the Middle East. The domestication of these varieties for use in agriculture and their subsequent arrival in the UK 6,000 years ago, displaced hunter-gathering as a way of life. This allowed the development of larger more formally organised communities where agricultural production supported a part of the population no longer directly involved in the production of food.
The wheat strains that farmers grow today look similar to ancient varieties, but have been repeatedly selected for higher yields and better disease resistance. In Roman times, wheat could yield three tonnes to each hectare; now eight tonnes is normal.
Each grain of wheat contains three main parts: the bran, endosperm and germ. Depending on how the wheat is milled, various types of flour will be produced. Wholemeal flour consists of the entire grain, brown flour has some of the bran and germ removed, while white flour consists of the endosperm almost exclusively.
Besides the obvious use of flour in the production of bread, flour is also used in the production of cakes and biscuits and also extensively in many kinds of processed foods. A careful look at the constituents of many products on the supermarket shelf will list wheat flour or, indeed, whole wheat grains as is the case with some muesli products. Wheat is a particularly useful crop in terms of human nutrition as it contains good levels of protein and carbohydrate.
Milling wheat and feed wheat are sold to grain merchants in bulk. Small amounts of bagged whole wheat are also produced.
Wheat is also sold bulk or bagged. Like the oats, each bag is 20KG, (1 ton palletized stretch wrapped) and can be collected or delivery can be arranged.