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Basic Wheat Facts

Basic Wheat Info

Agriculture is North Dakota's largest industry.  About 90 percent of the state's land is used for crop farming and cattle ranching with about 24 million acres of cropland.  On average, North Dakota producers plant about 7.5 million acres of wheat with production totaling 320 million bushels.  North Dakota and Kansas are most often the top two wheat producing states.

The climate, rich soil and flat land of the Northern Plains are perfectly suited to the production of spring wheat and durum. These classes of wheat are planted in April and May with harvest generally taking place from late July through September. The time lapse between sowing spring wheat and plant head development is usually 65 to 80 days. It takes another 20 to 30 days for the kernels to ripen for harvest. 

Almost all hard red spring and durum wheat grown in the Northern Plains is produced under dry land conditions, not irrigation. Stored soil moisture and timely rains are important to the survival and quality of the crop. Cool, wet growing seasons tend to produce lower protein wheat. Overly hot, dry conditions can stress the wheat resulting in higher protein content and stronger gluten properties. Wet conditions at harvest may cause sprouting.

U.S. farmers realize wheat importers want a reliable supplier that can provide a uniform quality wheat from cargo to cargo and from one year to the next. It is important to remember, however, that wheat is a basic raw material that can exhibit changes in character depending on weather conditions. Wheat quality is related to the fact that the wheat kernel is a living, viable organism. When nature cooperates-and she usually does-U.S. hard red spring and durum wheat have the quality sought after by the milling, baking and pasta industries worldwide.

The document below highlights the state's agriculture industry and gives more specifics on North Dakota's wheat classes and their uses.

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