August 22, 2018
Why wheat? The importance of wheat beyond the field
With almost 50 million acres planted this past season, wheat’s importance in American agriculture can’t be overstated. It’s the third-largest crop produced in the U.S. and it’s grown in all but eight states. This powerful grain spans countries, cultures and industries with its uses ranging from food products to paper, hair conditioner and even charcoal. It’s clear that wheat production plays a vital role in everyday life.
But what does it mean to the farmers themselves? We asked the wheat community why growing wheat matters to them.
Mark Haugen is a sixth-generation farmer on his family’s operation in northern Minnesota, currently farming with his sister and father. While some farmers have started bringing corn into their operation, Mark says that the agronomic benefits and conditions in his region make wheat the obvious choice.
Not only is wheat a staple in his northern Minnesota region, it’s also a legacy. With three young sons who may one day continue this family legacy, he says the importance of wheat is all in the family. “My personal perspective is to grow crops that are going to sustain our family operation for my boys coming down the line here. If any one of them want to farm I’ve got to make sure I’ve got a sustainable rotation; I think wheat is that sustainable crop,” said Mark.
Jonathan Zacher is a farmer with five years of experience and a family history of farming under his belt. His operation in North Dakota grows a rotation of crops with wheat making up the majority of his acres. To Jonathan, the importance of wheat reaches beyond its intrinsic value and instead is important for what wheat can do for your farm.
Jonathan says that the agronomic value of wheat on his farm is important, as it keeps his fields healthy and ready to manage rotations of many crops. “Without wheat, our cropping system would fail because of the organic matter it adds to the soil and rotational benefits to the other crops we raise,” said Jonathan.
As a technical product manager for WestBred® wheat, Grant Mehring has a bird's-eye view of wheat's role both on the farm and off. He says the importance of wheat can be seen worldwide as well as close to home. His northern plains region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota is one of the leading producers of hard red spring wheat, which is a wheat that's known to have high protein levels, and strong baking and milling properties - exactly what you'd need for the perfect loaf of bread.
Grant says that the importance of wheat comes from helping to feed the world. “All of our cultures have different ways that we consume the products that wheat make,” said Grant. “Wheat is a critically important crop on the world’s stage. [It] is one of those staple foods that we rely on around the world.”
From continuing a legacy to supporting agronomic efforts to feeding the world, wheat’s role extends far beyond that of a simple commodity. The importance of wheat is entrenched within the industry and around the world, and is ingrained in our farmers.
Why do you grow wheat? Is it for profitability, agronomic benefits, because of family tradition, or another reason entirely? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.