Consider wheat. It has been cultivated from ancient times. It is mentioned in the writings of Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham’s hometown. Ur’s farmers grew corn, barley, wheat, millet, lentils, chick-peas, beans, garlic, onions, lettuce, turnips, cress, leeks, mustard, and cucumbers, among other things. Sesame was grown to produce oil. Their farming techniques were methodical and complex. There was a farmer’s almanac that provided information on weather, irrigation, annual flooding, and guidelines for planting and harvesting. There was information on crop rotation and letting the land lie fallow for specific periods. There was information on the ideal number of times to water the crops. For corn, there was to be a final application shortly before harvest to fatten up the ears (Harriet Crawford, Sumer and the Sumerians, p. 55). Planting began with a double plowing of the field, followed by a harrowing, raking, and pulverizing process. They had plows with seeder attachments, so that they could plow and sow simultaneously, the depth of seeding being precisely measured. The seeder plow was operated by three men, one handling the plow, one leading the oxen, and one operating the seeder.
Today wheat is grown on every continent and is the world’s most harvested crop. World trade in wheat is larger than all other crops combined. In 2016, 27 billion bushels of wheat were grown worldwide. “If you put all that wheat in school buses and lined them up end to end, they would wrap around the Earth’s equator almost 10 times!” One state in America, Kansas, grows enough wheat annually to bake 36 billion loaves of bread.
There are six basic types of wheat, but cross-breeding has produced 30,000 varieties.
Wheat can be grown from sea level up to about 12,000 feet.
There are two general types of wheat: spring and winter. Spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in summer, and winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested in the spring.
God’s Word uses wheat to illustrate the blessing of Christ’s kingdom.
“And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil” (Joel 2:24).
The Hebrew word for wheat here is “bar,” which is a general word for grain that is winnowed. The normal Hebrew word for wheat is “chittah” and for barley is “sehorah.”
One stalk of wheat typically produces 50 kernels or seeds, thus multiplying itself 50 times in one generation.
One bushel of wheat (60 pounds) contains approximately one million individual kernels.
To plant an acre of wheat requires 40 pounds of seed, which produces about 3600 pounds (60 bushels).
One bushel of wheat produces about 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread, 42 pounds of pasta (about 210 servings of spaghetti), or 45 boxes of wheat flake cereal. One semi-truck load of wheat produces about 42,000 loaves of bread. A family of four could live 10 years from the bread produced by one acre of wheat.
The kernel of the wheat consists of three parts: bran (outer layer, about 14% of the kernel), endosperm (nutritive matter used for development of the embryo, 83% of the kernel), and germ (embryo, about 2.5% of the kernel). Whole wheat flour is made by grinding whole kernels. White flour is made by grinding only the endosperm and thus contains less minerals, vitamins, and fibers. The germ is usually separated because it contains fat that “limits the ability of flours to keep for a longer period of time.”
More foods are made from wheat than any other cereal grain. It is used for bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and fermented beverages.
Many other things are made from wheat, including paper, plastic, furniture, hair conditioners, glue, textiles, lotions, medical swabs, and charcoal. Ethanol produced from wheat is used as a bio-fuel.
“O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches” (Psalm 104:24).
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