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Origins of Wheat

Origins of Wheat

The first ancestor of wheat was wild grass. Wild grass seeds were gathered, then the crop straw and chaff were removed, and people ate them. Scientists have found evidence of two early types of wheat dating back to 10,000 years ago called Einkorn and Emmer. This wheat was found in the Fertile Crescent, which is a crescent-shaped strip of land on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

An illustrated map that highlights the Fertile Crescent, next to the Mediterranean Sea. The Fertile Crescent is nearby the Persian Gulf and also next to the countries of Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, and Jordan.

The first evidence of wheat comes from the Fertile Crescent, which is on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean.

People started farming wheat 9000 years ago. They began to break up the grassland to plant, harvest, store, and trade grain. This changed the world forever because people could live in one place all year round.

A golden-coloured wheat crop is shown with a blue sky in the background.

Wheat crops have been around for thousands of years.

Wheat crops were harvested by hand. The crop was removed from the field using a scythe or a sickle. Many ancient farmers would use a flail to separate the grain from the straw, while others would drive oxen over the grain. The kernels of wheat were eaten raw, dried, or ground into flour to make simple flatbreads. This early wheat made a lasting food source when other vegetables and berries weren’t available during the winter.

An illustrated group of grasshoppers are eating a corn plant and leaving many holes in the leaves. There is a corn crop in the background.

This ancient Egyptian man is using a flail to separate the grain from the straw.

An illustrated farm sprayer has its booms out and is spraying a green crop.

Cradle Scythe

An illustrated farm sprayer has its booms out and is spraying a green crop.


Two illustrated men are using cradle scythes to cut wheat down into stooks in a farm field.

The cradle scythe has been used to cut wheat down for thousands of years.

An illustration of a man and a woman harvesting a wheat crop using a cradle scythe.

The cradle scythe was still being used in the early 1900s when settlers farmed on the Prairies.

Wheat has been improved throughout history by the help of people. Wheat plants now produce many more seeds per plant. Today, wheat is used in a wide variety of products from breads, pastas, crackers, snacks, and even food for livestock. 

An illustrated loaf of bread that is partially sliced sits on a grey background.

Wheat is an ingredient in a wide variety of foods, including bread.