Wheat is one of the oldest crops domesticated in the world. Wheat cultivation most likely began around 10,000 years ago, in the "Fertile Crescent" between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is today Iraq. Evidence suggests that, wheat was being used for bread in Egypt by 5000 BC and wheat cultivation had spread to Europe by 4000 BC.

Domestic wheat originated in southwest Asia in what is now known as the Fertile Crescent. The oldest archaeological evidence for wheat cultivation comes from Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Armenia, and Iraq. Around 9000 years ago, wild einkorn wheat was harvested and domesticated in the first archeological signs of sedentary farming in the Fertile Crescent.

The wheat is having different names in regional languages viz., Gehun, Kanak, Gandham in Hindi, Gehun, Gahang in Marathi, Godhumalu in Telugu, Godhi in Kannad, Godumai, Godumbairisi in Tamil, Gendhkum, Godamba in Malayalam.
There are 25 species of wheat recognized in the world but, only three species of wheat namely; T. aestivum / vulgare Linn (Bread wheat), T. durum(Macaroni wheat) and T. dicoccum(Emmer wheat) are commercially grown in India.

  Contents and composition:

Endosperm (actual wheat grain) 81 per cent

Aleurone – 8 per cent

Germ – 1 per cent

Husk – 10 per cent


Crude protein

Crude fat


Crude fibre

Available carbohydrate







Types of wheat

Durum - Very hard, translucent, light colored grain used to make semolina flour for pasta.

Hard Red Spring - Hard, brownish, high protein wheat used for bread and hard baked goods.

Hard Red Winter - Hard, brownish, very high protein wheat used for bread, hard baked goods and as an adjunct in other flours to increase protein.  

Soft Red Winter - Soft, brownish, medium protein wheat used for bread.

 Hard White - Hard, light colored, opaque, chalky, medium protein wheat planted in dry, temperate areas. Used for bread and brewing

 Soft White - Soft, light colored, very low protein wheat grown in temperate moist areas. Used for bread.

Table 1: Estimates of world wheat production

(million tonnes)





2002-03 567,643  603,759  166,562 
2003-04 554,595  588,427 132,730 
2004-05 628,855  610,143  151,442 
2005-06 618,458  624,207  145,693
2006-07 598,001 615,275  128,419 
Source: USDA

World cenario

Major wheat producing countries in the world include China, India, the US, Canada, Australia and Pakistan in the respective positions. The first five countries contribute for about 53 per cent of total production in the world. India is the second largest producer of wheat in the world only next to China. The world wheat output is expected to comedown to about 610 million tonnes from the record 620 million tonnes during 2004-05 primarily due to reduction output in the EU and North Africa. Despite the record production, wheat prices (futures on CBOT) have moved slightly up from mid April to July 2005 compared to the same period of previous year primarily driven by reduction in the US wheat output to 58.7 million tonnes in 2004-05 from 63.8 million tonnes in 2003-04.


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