Wheat is capable of cultivation in a greater variety of soils and climates than any other grain, and is also better suited for bread-making and for use as a constant article of diet. It has been called "the King of Cereals."

A. Note the elliptical scar at the base of a wheat grain. This shows where the germ, or embryo, lies, from which the seedling springs.

B. Crush a few grains of wheat, moisten them with boiling water, and test them for starch.

If sprouted grains 1 be tested for starch, much of it will be found to have disappeared, and, under the microscope, the granules left will appear rough, as if eaten into.

How The Seedling Is Fed

What has become of the starch? We have before seen that Nature is careful to provide food for baby plants. In what part of the potato plant is starch stored? What connection is there between that part of the plant from which the young plant springs and the location of the food supply?

The plant, like the human body, cannot make use of starch until it is digested. In what does the digestion of starch consist? This digestion in grains is effected by diastase, a substance developed in the seed during sprouting. What animal substance do you know of that can effect this change?

Kinds Of Wheat

Wheat is called winter wheat or spring wheat, according to whether it is best suited to being sown in autumn or in spring. Wheat that endures the cold and dampness of winter is soft and starchy; wheat that comes up quickly in sunny spring weather is hard. Even spring wheat is soft in a rainy, cold season. These two sorts of wheat produce quite different kinds of flour, as you will learn in the next chapter.

Harvesting

Where wheat can be sown in the autumn, it ripens in early summer; in the most Northern states not till autumn. When the ears are heavy and golden, it is cut down and bound into shocks. The grains are threshed out of the husks and sent to market. Until recently this work was done mostly by hand, but now steam-reapers, binders, and threshers are common on the great farms in the wheat regions.

1 Wheat and other cereals may be grown in earth or sawdust, or on moist blotting paper laid on a plate and covered with a glass jar or cheese-dish cover.

Home-Work

Grow different kinds of grain at home in different ways; make drawings of the seedlings in different stages of growth.

Brief Reference List

For further development of topics treated in this section see: -

Edgar : Story of a grain of wheat.

Ward : Grocer's encyclopedia.

Sherman : Food products.

Washburn-Crosby Company : Wheat and flour primer.