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How Wheat Grows: Spring to Harvest

1st Week of June

The wheat is starting to ripen. Once it is ripe, it will be ready to harvest. As the individual wheat seeds (also called kernels) mature, the wheat plant stops growing and stops taking nutrients and moisture from the roots. The wheat plant uses all the remaining nutrients stored in the stems and leaves to finish producing the wheat seeds.

As the plant dies, the color gradually changes from green to gold. A common term for this change is “turning”. The wheat in these photos is starting to “turn”.

Each seed also goes thru a process of drying down - the outer coating begins to harden and the inner layers also start to lose moisture. At the “milk dough” stage, the seeds are soft and can be squeezed. What comes out looks like thick white milk. Then, it becomes harder to squeeze the seed so it may be cracked open by putting it in the mouth and cracking the outer coating with teeth. The insides are thicker –more like bread dough than milk at this point. Finally, when the wheat is almost ready to harvest, the outer coating is hard and may even need to be softened before it can be cracked open. At that time, the wheat seeds can be chewed once they’re cracked open – a good substitute for chewing gum!