Spring Wheat Planting
From your garden to the farmers' fields
Spring is finally kicking into gear, and you’re probably finally getting out into the yard. Whether you’re planting flowers, a vegetable garden, or adding a few trees to the yard, you’ve probably got a plan in your head. So do our Alberta wheat growers. In fact, when it comes to wheat, farmers have been planning their crops while spring was the furthest thing from most peoples’ minds.
Often, the decision of what variety of wheat to plant isn’t made until some point in March, but after that it’s go time! With some of the warm springs we’ve had recently, farmers in Edmonton were able to seed as early as the end of March or first week of April, although this would be considered ultra-early by most standards.
Wheat planted around this time will be a variety of spring wheat, which is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. Winter wheat, another variety, is planted in the fall, stops growing during the winter, starts again in spring and then is harvested in the summer months. With seeds likely already in the ground, this year’s first wheat sprouts are soon to show up and start their journey to becoming Alberta Wheat!
Did you know you can even try growing wheat in your own garden? While you might think wheat is only for large commercial farmers, you can plant a few rows of it in your garden or create a space for it elsewhere in your yard. Find a sunny patch in your garden or yard and plant the seeds in soil that has been tilled around 6 inches deep. Sow your seeds by hand or use a seed spreader if you have one and rake them into the soil. Next, keep the soil moist but not soaking until the seeds sprout. After that, they only need about an inch of water per week.
Once the stalks start going from green to golden brown, it’s time to harvest. The timing of this will depend on the variety you’ve grown. Cut down the stalks with garden shears and hang the stalks to dry for two weeks, after which you will need to beat the stalks with a wooden stick. A retired hockey or ringette stick will do. Next, use a fan to blow the chaff off of your harvested wheat. At this point, store the grains in jars and blend as needed to create your very own flour! While it’s a long process, it really gives you an eye opening look into all the hard work our Alberta wheat growers put in year after year to make sure Canada and many other places in the world have the wheat they need to make bread, beer and everything else that requires Life’s Simple Ingredient!