Common wheat

Common wheat (Triticum aestivum) is the most commonly farmed species of wheat, and approximately 95% of the world´s total yearly wheat production is T. aestivum. In English, this species is also known as bread wheat.

wheat

The second-most farmed species of wheat is durum wheat (Triticum durum), also known as pasta wheat. Some sources see this as a subspecies rather than a species in its own right, and thus use the scientific name Triticum turgidum subsp. durum.

Wheat farming

Common wheat is one of the world´s most farmed cereal crops. In the year 2019, the total global wheat production was 766 million tonnes. This number includes all wheat, but almost all of it was common wheat or (to a lesser extent) durum wheat.

Common wheat is a widely cultivated cash crop and there a huge – and increasing – market demand for common wheat. In some countries however, including the United States, it is possible to see a trend where farmers increasingly are seeking out even more profitable cash crops than wheat.

It usually takes 110-130 days before sowed wheat is ready for harvest, but this can vary quite a lot depending on factors such as seed type, soil and weather conditions. It should also be noted that winter wheat will be sown late in the year and lay dormant during the cold winter.

Certain stages of the wheat´s development are extra sensitive to heat stress, and this includes pollen formation. If the heat stress is combined with inadequate water supply, the situation will be even worse.

Wheat diseases

Common wheat is susceptible to a wide range of health problems caused by virus, bacteria and fungi. Many special cultivars have been developed with increased resilience to problems associated with certain growth conditions, so it is possible to decrease the risk of certain issues by selecting a wheat cultivar that´s adapted for the local situation.

Examples of viral wheat diseases: Wheat spindle streak mosaic, Barley yellow dwarf disease

Examples of fungal wheat diseases: Seed-born Stagonospora disease, Common bunt, Loose smut, Wheat leaf rust, Fusarium head scab, Cephalosporium stripe

Examples of bacterial wheat diseases: P. s. pv. atrofaciens disease, Black chaff caused by Xanthomonas campestris pathovar (pv.) undulosa

Top wheat farming countries

In the year 2019, the five main producers of wheat were China, India, Russia, USA and France. Collectively, these five countries produced over 50% of the total global wheat production.

China: 133.6 million tonnes

India: 103.6 million tonnes

Russia: 74.5 million tonnes

USA: 52.3 million tonnes

France: 40.6 million tonnes

Export and import

In 2019, the largest exporters of wheat were Russia, USA, Canada, France, and the Ukraine.

The largest importers of wheat that same year were Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, Italy, and the Philippines.

wheat bread

About Common wheat

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Poales

Family: Poaceae

Subfamily: Pooideae

Genus: Triticum

Species: Triticum aestivum

Background

Triticum aestivum is an allohexaploid, for which three different species have contributed with two sets of chromosomes each. Two chromosome sets come from Einkorn wheat (Triticum urartu), two from a species related to Aegilops speltoids, and two from wild goat-grass (Aegilops tauschii). The spontaneous hybridisation between Einkorn wheat and A. speltoids took place 580,000 – 820,000 years ago and created the species Triticum turgidum, which is a close relative of Emmer wheat and durum wheat. The wild goat-grass contributed its two sets of chromosomes much later, roughly 230,000-430,000 years ago.

Common wheat was domesticated in Western Asia. From there, it spread to other parts of Asia, to Northern Africa and to Europe during the prehistoric era. Several types of wheat, including Triticum aestivum, have been found in ancient Roman grave sites ranging from 100 BCE to 300 CE.