The cultivation of wheat (Triticum spp.) reaches far back into history. Wheat was one of the first domesticated food crops and for 8000 years has been a basic staple food. Today, wheat is grown on more land area than any other commercial crop and continues to be the most important food grain source for humans. Its production leads all crops, including, rice, corn (maize), and potatoes.
About 95% of wheat produced worldwide is common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), also known as bread wheat, the cereal with the highest monetary yield. Classification into spring or winter wheat is common and traditionally refers to the season during which the crop is grown. Wheat is primarily used as food: bread products, pasta, noodles, pastry, breakfast cereals, and for animal feed. Small quantities (< 5%) of wheat are also used for other uses (glues, alcohol, and gluten) and planting seed.
Wheat is grown yearly on up to 250 million hectares, an area equivalent to that of Greenland, and world trade is greater than for all other crops combined. China is the top country by wheat production in the world, accounting for approximately 20% of the world’s wheat production. The other top 5 producers – the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, the United States, and Canada – account for 65% of it. The total annual wheat production is estimated at 600 million tons.
Wheat is fundamental to human civilization and has played an outstanding role in feeding a hungry world and improving global food security. The crop contributes about 20% of the total dietary calories and proteins worldwide. Food demand in the developing regions is growing by 1% annually.
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