Wheat Today

Today, the way we grow wheat has not changed a lot. But like planting most crops today, farmers now use computers to check weather patterns, tractors that run on gas to plow and plant, as well as use modern machinery to harvest the crop.

wheat production map

Photo courtesy of National Association of Wheat Growers

Different regions in the U.S. grow different types of wheat. Not much wheat is grown in Iowa today, but many surrounding states still farm this popular midwest crop. Check out the map above to see where each kind of wheat is commonly grown.

Preparing the Soil

Before it is time to plant, farmers need to prepare the soil. Some use a machine to plow the soil. However, today most farmers are switching to a method called “no-till.” “No-Till” farming is a way for the farmers to maintain a better soil structure by not plowing the fields. Once the soil is ready, a machine called a grain drill is used to plant the seeds.

wheat growing stages

Photo courtesy of Prairie Californian

Planting and Growing

Wheat is planted at different times depending on a region’s weather conditions. Some farmers grow theirs in the winter while other grow theirs in the fall. Once the soil is ready, a machine called a grain drill is used to plant the seeds. Wheat grows through stages. At first, the wheat is green and can look like grass. Then it grows taller and becomes a golden brown color as it dries.

Harvesting and Storing

It depends on the type of wheat and when it is planted, to determine when the wheat will be harvested. Some are harvested in the summer, while others in the fall.

When the wheat plant reaches its final stage in the growing process, meaning it is dry enough and no green is showing, it is ready to be harvested.  A combine is used to harvest the crop. This machine combines reaping, threshing, and winnowing. The edible wheat is put into the back of the combine. It is then put into a grain cart, and then into a semi truck where it is transported to be stored in a grain elevator.

Credit: “67598_160601_GEP_Combine_S780_WHEAT_aerial_DJI_0022_SUB_2.mp4 and 75698_160601_GEP_Combine_WHEAT_OSMO_DJI_0011_SUB_1.mp4” and audio file “67598_160601_GEP_Combine_S780_WHEAT_aerial_DJI_0022_SUB_2.mp4 and 67598_160601_GEP_Combine_WHEAT_OSMO_DJI_0011_SUB_1.mp4” are made available by courtesy of Deere and Company.

Uses of Wheat

Wheat is typically milled into flour which is then used to make a wide range of foods that we eat everyday. These foods include bread, muffins, pasta, biscuits, cakes, pastries, cereal bars, snack foods, crackers, sauces and confectionery such as licorice!

Other non-food products containing wheat include kitty litter, golf tees, play-doh, and glue.


Grain Drill: a device that sows the seeds for crops by metering out the individual seeds, positioning them in the soil, and covering them to a certain average depth.

Milled: To grind or crush something (such as a wheat plant)

Reaping: Cutting of the crop

Threshing: Loosening the edible part of the grain from the protective coating around it

Winnowing: Separating the coating from the edible grain