Farm Facts: Grain

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Those who don’t farm may not realize the intricacies of making a living off the land.

Tennessee farmers – and all farmers, actually – need a true game plan to get the most out of their acreage. And winter wheat is one crop that can pay off.

Planted in fall, winter wheat is ready to be harvested in late spring. Farmers can then follow up with a quick planting of no-till soybeans, allowing double-cropping – two crops out of one field.

Winter wheat typically sprouts before freezing occurs and then becomes dormant until the soil warms up in early spring. It’s the same principle as planting grass seed (actually, a close relative) before frost to ensure a green lawn the next spring.

Tennessee-produced winter wheat is used primarily for all-purpose, pastry and cake flours.

More grainy facts:

• In 2004, Tennessee farmers harvested 280,000 acres of winter wheat.

• On average, winter wheat yields 49 bushels per acre.

• The annual production value of winter wheat in Tennessee is $48 million.

• Wheat is a member of the cereal family of crops that also includes rye, oats and rice.

• Wheat flour is manufactured from the grain harvested from mature wheat plants in a process that involves grinding whole-wheat grains into finely granulated powders, or flour.

• Most Americans need between 3 and 10 ounces of grains daily. Examples of an ounce include one slice of bread, one cup of cereal or a half cup cooked rice.

• Wheat flour is the main ingredient in most noodles, pasta, breads, biscuits, cookies and crackers.

Sources: Wheat Foods CouncilUT Extension

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