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Wheat Overview

Wheat is a cereal grain crop that can be ground into flour. For many years, Saskatchewan was known as the ‘Breadbasket of the World’ because of so much wheat was grown and sold all over the world. Today, customers around the world still count on Canadian wheat for its superior quality.

Wheat can be ground into flour.

Canadian farmers grow mainly Canada Western Red Spring Wheat and Durum Wheat. There are several different varieties of wheat that are grown for specific uses.

Barley, oats, wheat, and canary seed are all cereal crops that are grown in Saskatchewan.

A bushel of wheat makes about 90 – 0.5kg (1 pound) loaves of whole wheat bread.

Industry Overview

Saskatchewan wheat farmers planted 5.1 million hectares (12.7 million acres) of wheat in 2020. The average yield of wheat is 3.1 tonnes per hectare (45.8 bushels per acre).

As farmers harvest their wheat crop they will eventually take the crop to registered buyers that will sell or trade the wheat to other countries. Some buyers transport the wheat to elevators where it is cleaned, stored, and later shipped.

Some wheat will be taken to processing facilities where it will be turned into flour which can be used for a variety of baking and cooking. Some varieties of wheat, including durum wheat, can be processed into flours that are made into pasta. Wheat can also be made into products such as paper products, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, plastic bags and plastic wrap, and concrete. These products are transported to retail stores where they are sold to consumers.

An illustrated golden coloured wheat crop.

Wheat can be made into a wide variety of products at processing facilities.

Wheat is also exported to other countries on ships. Countries that import wheat from Saskatchewan include Indonesia, the United States, China, and Japan. The grain is taken from elevators on trains and put onto ships to transport to these international countries that buy Canadian grain. Canada is the world’s third largest wheat exporter, and ships out approximately 22.1 million tonnes (24.3 tons) of wheat each year.

A simple, illustrated graph of the ‘Top Saskatchewan Products of 2020’ is shown and lists potash ($6 B), oil ($5 B), wheat ($4.5 B), canola seed ($3.6 B), lentils ($2.2 B), canola oil ($1.7 B), peas ($1.2 B), canola meal ($801 M), soya beans ($574 M), and barley ($474 M).

Canada trades with countries around the world to import and export a variety of products including crops such as wheat, canola, lentils, peas, and barley!

History of Wheat

Wheat dates to the 17th century in Canada. It spread to the Prairies in the early 19th century with the Selkirk settlers. Around 1756, the first attempt to grow wheat in Saskatchewan took place in the Carrot River Valley. Wheat quickly became the most important crop grown in Saskatchewan.

Wheat dates back to the 17th century in Canada.

Growing Wheat

Wheat can be grown in all soil types in Saskatchewan. Wheat is a very hardy crop that has adapted to grow well in Canada’s growing season.

This graph shows the major soil zones across the Prairies.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall, after the field has been harvested. The wheat seed sits in the ground over winter and when the spring weather is warm enough it will begin to grow. Seeding in the fall allows the farmer to not have to plant that field in the spring.

This photo shows a green, unripe wheat crop.

Spring wheat is planted in the spring with fertilizer and it may need to be sprayed for weeds, insects, and diseases. During harvest, wheat can be swathed and then combined, or straight cut combined depending on the levelness of the field.

This crop is golden coloured and ready to harvest.

Each wheat head contains about 25 to 50 seeds.

This farmer is dumping the wheat seed that he has just harvested from the combine to the grain truck, to be hauled to a grain bin for storage.

Wheat Nutrition

The wheat kernel has three parts: the endosperm, bran, and the germ.

The endosperm contains protein, carbohydrates, iron, fibre, and B-vitamins.

Whole-grain wheat is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

The bran is included in whole wheat flour. It contains fibre, a small amount of protein, B-vitamins, vitamin E, minerals, and antioxidants.

The germ is where the plant sprouts from when it is starting to grow. The germ is typically separated from the flour because it has a high fat content (10%) which makes the flour go old. Germ contains small amounts of protein, B-vitamins and a few minerals.

Wheat Products

Wheat is used in bakery flours, bread flours, cake and pastry flours, and all-purpose flours.

Wheat is used to make flour, which can be used for a variety of baking and cooking.

Durum wheat is used for making semolina flours which are made into Indian flat bread, macaroni, and other pastas.

Wheat is used to make many flours that can be made into various breads and pastas.

Wheat is also used as an ingredient when making a variety of products.

A woman is holding a basket of bread.

For many years, Saskatchewan was known as the ‘Breadbasket of the World’ because so much wheat was grown and sold all over the world.