Grain Chain Episode 4: Growing Wheat

This time we’re looking at the process of farming and growing wheat!

Wheat grows best in places with good, rich soils, like they have in the East of England, where it gets a bit more sun in the summer and a bit less rain too!

That’s why you find loads of farms around here with large fields for growing wheat!

But it doesn’t grow itself… First, the farmers have to plough their fields to prepare the soil for the seeds and this all starts in the Autumn.

This ploughing squashes all the weeds and the rubbishy plant debris into to the soil where they rot down to make nutrients for the next crop.

Once that’s done, it’s then time to get sowing. The new wheat grows over and can look a bit like a field of grass!

Look out for wheat fields if you’re in the countryside in the Autumn — you can tell grown ups that it’s not a field of grass – it’s a field of bread! Well, sort of…

In Spring, with a good supply of water, sunlight and warmth, our little wheat seed will be growing nice and big – if you do a good job, they’ll grow up to 60cm tall!

Farmers can also use something called fertiliser to help this process.

Fertiliser is full of useful things that crops need to grow, with chemicals like nitrogen, phosphate and potassium.

It can be artificially made but quite often farmers use organic fertiliser, like manure – that’s poo!

It’s pretty stinky stuff but it it’s a great way to give the plants all the important things they need to grow.

And once they’re all grown up, by June at the top of each stalk you’ll see…

The ear! That’s the nice feathery bit at the top. They’re not ears like yours or mine – a wheat ear is the part that contains the grain, and each ‘ear’ will contain around 50 grains.

It takes 350 ears to make just one loaf of bread!

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