How Do I Grow Winter Wheat? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I am interested in growing my own wheat but I need to know how to plant it. This is going to be just a small plot for my own family's needs so I don't need to know how to plant acres. I would like to know how long after last frost to plant, how far apart to space the seeds, how deep to cover them, how much watering it needs and any other special planting needs it may have. I live in Virginia if that helps in giving me info. I don't know anything about wheat but I think the best for my area is the red winter wheat so I need to know how and when to plant that as well. Also, where can I buy seeds this year to plant? I think I have found one place to buy them. They are a $1.00 per pound and they will sell in 5 pound portions but I wasn't sure if that is a good price. Thanks for any help you can provide.

-- Colleen Lanza (, August 26, 1999


You need to find a source that sell's seed to farmers in bulk, I can't find my price list but I think it was 100lb for $18.00 this is in Co. I got mine untreated to use for bread, not planting so I can't answer the other part of your question, but where you buy the seed from can tell you. Also check your feed store, to see if they carry whole grains.

-- cynthia hale (, August 27, 1999.

Colleen, I live in a warm climate...Northern California Coast Mountains...and winter wheat does very well here. I have found the best way to plant winter wheat is simply to find a local farmer that is selling baled straw and buy up however many bales I need. After my garden (about 3/4 acre) is winding down for the fall, I plow and disc, then break open a bale of straw. I spread the straw so it covers the soil "thinly"...enough straw so I cannot see the soil, but not much more. I have found that there is enough seed left in the straw that I do not need to purchase seed. Plus, the straw provides a mulch that helps get the sprouts started. I do not worry overmuch about gotta get it in by a certain date...I simply broadcast and then wait for the fall rains to begin. Winter wheat grows well over the winter here and forms a very nice crop in the spring. Easy to do, cheap to do, works for me.

-- Nick (, August 29, 1999.

Colleen, I lve in Virginia also (Bowling Green), I buy wheat from local farmers for 3.00-4.00 per bushel (60 lbs.). If you live near any farms they can tell you or sell you some wheat. I planted wheat 2 bushels per acre, you only need a few pounds.Or you could grind the wheat you buy from the farmers.

-- Herb Buckingham (, August 30, 1999.

Colleen I'd like to answer that if I may. My credentials are based on the fact that I've grown enough wheat to feed 330 people, one loaf of bread per day, for a period of 50 years. In other words about 6 million pounds. I no longer raise wheat on a grain farm, but do still raise it and other crops on a hobby sized farm of 16 acres. I'm in Kansas, the "Wheat State." While I'll try to not discourage you from growing your own wheat, you should know that modern flours are blends of varieties of wheat to achieve a certain protein level, and to achieve the best milling and baking qualities. Therefore what you wind up growing may not yield what you will appreciate except for the satisfaction of having grown it yourself. I read favorable comments about a variety called Prairie Gold. I've never heard of it being grown in Kansas, only in other areas. You might try to find some of it. You spoke of cost. The local grain elevators are currently buying wheat for $2.39 per 60 pound bushel, or roughly 4 cents per pound. That's a long way from your cost of $1 per pound. Middle men, packaging, transportation, humpf. Seed wheat, cleaned, tested, and bagged in 50 pound bags sells for $4.00 to $6.00. I called a seed company this past Spring, and untreated is available. I think that shipping to your area would be about $25 per bag. You could always use what you need for this year, save some for next year, and grind the rest into flour, or use as whole grain cereal. Now I will get to the planting. Don't wait for a frost to plant, but do wait until after September 15th. This will help prevent Hessian fly infestation if it is a pest in your area. Seeding rate should be about 60 pounds per acre (43560 sq. feet) or 1.37 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Plant into ground free from weeds, after you have received a rain. Depending on soils and moisture, farmers plant in rows or drills spaced 7 inches to 14 inches apart. For your area I suggest that you broadcast the required amount of grain over the area that you wish to plant. Farmers plant the wheat from 1/2 inch to 4 inches deep, depending upon moisture availability. I suggest that you just shallow roto-till your wheat in, or rake it in by hand. Because of this inaccurate method of planting, I would up the seeding rate to 2 pounds per 1000 square feet. Stand back until harvest time. No further work should be needed. The wheat will pretty well shade the ground to keep weeds from germinating. In your area, rainfall should be enough to produce a crop. Your yield on 1000 square feet should be around 60 pounds or one bushel. Since farming is a gamble, be prepared to harvest only 10 pounds or as much as 150 pounds from 1000 square feet. Wheat is a super tough crop and you should do well. If you have cattle, once the wheat achieves good vegetative growth and is well rooted, you can pasture off the wheat without affecting yield. Just stop the pasturing by April 1st. Unless you know what you are doing, don't allow the cattle to graze on wheat that is frosty. Often farmers make more money from wheat pasture than they do from grain. If you have further questions feel free to email. Oh, by the way Nick, if a farmer has their combine set right you shouldn't get enough grain out of straw for a crop. However, you are so I would continue with what is working. Sorry this is long folks. greenbeanman

-- greenbeanman (, August 31, 1999.

Thanks everyone for all of the info. Greenbeanman, can you give me an address where I can order the wheat seed you spoke of? This would be more than enough for what I would need for planting but I would like having some on hand to grind as well. I'm determined I am going to learn how to do it. From your description it sounds like it should be pretty simple. I am able to water it if it needs it since I have a large swimming pool which I am not currently maintaining without any chemicals and I have a sump pump rigged up in it to get all of the water I need for gardening. (Our house is on well water and I don't like to use that for gardening.) I'll let you all know how it all turns out next spring.

-- Colleen Lanza (, September 04, 1999.

I hope that you have not given up on me. I called seed suppliers to see if they would ship to you or if I would need to make the purchase and then send it. They are willing to prepare and ship seed.

They are Greenbush Seed & Supply Inc., 315 South Adams, Hutchinson, Kansas 67501. Phone 316-662-6659 The seed variety that you would want is "Karl 92." It comes in 60# bags and is $5.75 plus shipping. Both USPS and UPS have websites that can tell you shipping costs. Be sure to ask for untreated grain and let them know that it will be for human consumption.

Another supplier that sells in smaller quantities is Glenn's Bulk Food Shoppe, 6411-E West Morgan Avenue, South Hutchinson, Kansas 67505. Phone 316-662-2875. The smallest bags they have made up are 10#, and sell for $.15 per pound. The clerk stated that they could ship a smaller quantity if needed. I again priced Karl 92 so that you could compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges. Since they are a bulk food store, they carry a variety of grains in bulk quantity. Any other bulk items that you might need, just ask about them. The store is either run by Amish or Mennonites, but I think Mennonites, and both tend to be very accomodating. Good luck to each of you that try growing wheat. The real work comes with harvesting and threshing the crop. Well, that is unless you have a combine like I do. :-)

-- greenbeanman (, September 08, 1999.

I can't add anything to what others have said except-if you buy from a local farmer make sure it's clean and free of garlic/onions and other weed seeds. I sold my wheat last year and they absolutely stole it from me for $1.00 per bushel. Reason? Garlic! Another point-flour you buy from the store is nice and white. Homegrown wheat that's ground will not be white. Processed wheat is "bleached" with harsh chemicals. Nobody needs those chemicals in their bodies. So what if the flour is not white. Good luck!

-- K.D.Gibson (, October 24, 1999.

I just re-read this post and noticed that I need to update the area codes for seed sources.

In its infinite wisdom the telephone company changed the area code from 316 to 620. The old 316 covered nearly the south half of the state. Now the new 316 covers only the Wichita area only. Yup, nearly half a state had to change area codes so Wichita folk wouldn't. Somehow that just doesn't seem right.

-- greenbeanman (, May 28, 2002.

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