Wheat has been a staple of our diet for millennia. It is even considered to be the oldest culture in the world. Today, wheat is still used to make bread flour. And it remains invaluable when raising animals, since it allows them both to feed them and to provide them with a comfortable bedding. If intensive wheat cultivation is widespread, this cereal remains rare among individuals. Wheat is, however, easy to sow and cultivate!
When to sow wheat?
Wheat is sown at two times of the year : in February / March for the spring varieties and in October for the winter varieties. This cereal has very good resistance to frost, down to – 15 ° C. Harvesting takes place 8 to 11 months after sowing, depending on the variety.
Which varieties to choose?
The great wheat family
The term “wheat” refers to a huge variety of grains. There are mainly two types of wheat:
- Durum wheat: adapted to arid and hot regions, it is particularly rich in gluten;
- Soft wheat (wheat) is the most common in France, since it makes it possible to make bread flour used to prepare bread.
You can opt for different varieties of soft wheat: spelled , small spelled (or engrain), or try your hand at growing khorasan wheat , an ancient variety of hard grain.
If you want to grow wheat for purely aesthetic purposes, let yourself be tempted by Touzelle , an old variety with beautiful bluish green foliage. You may prefer Galician wheat (also known as Polish wheat), which changes from pure green to a very beautiful golden appearance when it reaches maturity.
What to do before sowing wheat (preparation, etc.)?
Wheat appreciates rich, well-amended soil . Because of its tall size, wheat needs to take root well, otherwise it will sag (in this case we speak of “lodging”). It is therefore essential to work the soil so that it is loose and very homogeneous, and to dose the compost carefully so that the soil is not too flexible: 400 to 500 g per m² maximum.
So that the wheat flourishes perfectly, it must not be parasitized by the presence of grass: we will therefore always ensure to weed carefully before proceeding to sowing.
How to sow it?
Wheat is sown exclusively in place.
- Draw furrows respecting a spacing of 20 cm;
- Insert a grain every 3 cm, driving it in 2 cm;
- Cover with a rake, tamping lightly;
- Water in fine rain so as not to displace the grains.
Although wheat has good cold hardiness, it is possible that you will experience some losses during a fall sowing. To counterbalance the losses, you can increase the density of plants per m²: space your furrows by only 15 cm, and place the seeds 2 cm apart.
Where to plant the wheat?
Wheat appreciates sunny locations. If one is used to seeing large fields of wheat, it is also possible to cultivate wheat ornamentally, opting for a small area or sowing it in isolation.
How to maintain it?
Five to six months after sowing, the wheat stalks begin to strengthen. This stage is called tillering. You can then give more vigor to your crops by weeding them and ridging them.
Wheat does not like competition from grass, which interferes with its development. It is therefore essential to weed regularly and you can also search for rotavator spare parts online.
Wheat does not appreciate the company of grass, it makes an exception for clover, which has the particularity of fixing nitrogen. However, young shoots have a great need for nitrogen to develop. As soon as it emerges, you can therefore proceed to sowing clover – white or purple, according to your tastes.
How to water the wheat?
Wheat develops in different stages, and its water requirements change. When sowing, he will be content with moderate watering. But its needs will increase during heading (the formation of the ear). When the wheat is ripe, it turns yellow and the ears curl: it is time to stop watering altogether.
Harvesting the wheat: when and how?
Wheat matures when the ears turn yellow and bend towards the ground in late July. If in doubt, start by taking the kernels from a single ear: if they are very hard, it is time to harvest.
The harvest is traditionally done with a scythe, but you can opt for a shears. Cut the wheat about 10 cm from the ground. Make sheaves, which you will tie carefully to hang them out of reach of rodents.
It is possible to collect a few grains of wheat by simply kneading an ear between your fingers, starting from the base and going up towards its end. To collect your entire harvest, use a sheet.
- Spread the sheet on the floor;
- Place ears of wheat on half of the sheet;
- Fold the sheet;
- Beat the sheet with a stick.
All you have to do is winnow the wheat, in other words, separate the grain from the husk. For this, simply use a sieve and a hair dryer.
Wheat diseases and what to do?
Birds are greedy for wheat, and when the grains are developed enough for their liking, they ravage crops in record time. The only effective protection is a net. Wheat also attracts rodents, and only traps can effectively keep them at bay.
Your wheat crops are susceptible to attack by mealworm, a grain-hungry beetle, or by the weevil. Both mainly appear when the temperature exceeds 32 ° C. The application of an insecticide is then essential.
Wheat is exposed to powdery mildew, especially in the spring. The disease can be recognized by the white spots, reminiscent of mold, which invades crops. If the spots are brown, then it is rust. In either case, the disease can be contained with a fungicide.
Another common disease that affects wheat is grain decay. Like powdery mildew and rust, it is caused by a fungus, but it can be extremely contagious. It is therefore essential to tear off the contaminated stems and incinerate them.