Wheat FAQ's



How you store the wheat depends upon how you intend to use it. If you will grind it fairly quickly, buy it in bags to save money. If you intend to store it long term then use a more permanent method.

You basically have two concerns: 1) eliminating potential infestation in the first place and 2) preventing future infestation once your product is stored. Many people use airtight metal cans or mylar bags and oxygen removers for long term storage. This is OK, especially when you are not sure how clean and/or pest free your wheat is. However, be aware that when you remove all the oxygen you eventually kill the wheat (it is a living organism) and it will not sprout.

Classes of Wheat

The agricultural areas of the United States differ dramatically in topography, soils and climate. Because of these differences, the United States produces a wide variety of crops, each suited to its own locale. Wheat is a typical example. Wheat is grown in most of the 50 states of the United States. The kind of wheat grown and the quantity vary widely from one region to another. Thus, an importer or domestic miller can be readily assured of obtaining the type of wheat they need by selecting the proper class.

Plant breeding lies at the heart of assuring continued improvements in the production and quality of U.S. wheat. Wheat improvement work had its formal beginning in 1897 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture set up an active program of wheat research and development. Today, the variety development program is carried out by experiment stations maintained by a number of states as part of their agricultural college and university systems. The experiment stations are the primary source of new wheat varieties and help to maintain the uniformity within a wheat class. Plant scientists at these federal and state stations are guided not only by the need of farmers for high-yielding wheats that resist drought and disease, but also by the quality requirements of millers and bakers at home and abroad.

Six Basic Classes

The many varieties of winter and spring wheat are grouped into six official classes. The class a variety fits into is determined by its hardness, the color of its kernels and by its planting time. Each class of wheat has its own relatively uniform characteristics related to milling, baking or other food use.

Hard Red Winter (HRW) is an important bread wheat which accounts for almost forty percent of the U.S. wheat crop and wheat exports. This fall-seeded wheat is produced in the Great Plains, which extend from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains and from the Dakotas and Montana south to Texas. Significant quantities are also produced in California. HRW has a moderately high protein content, usually averaging 11-12%, and good milling and baking characteristics. There are no subclasses of this class.

Hard Red Spring (HRS), another important bread wheat, maintains the highest protein content, usually 13-14%, in addition to good milling and baking characteristics. This spring-seeded wheat is primarily grown in the north central United States--North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. HRS comprises just over twenty percent of U.S. wheat exports. Subclasses based upon the dark, hard and vitreous kernel content (DHV), include dark northern spring, northern spring and red spring.

Hard White (HW) is the newest class of wheat to be grown in the United States. It is used for noodles, yeast breads and flat breads and is grown in California, Idaho, Kansas and Montana. There are no subclasses. Currently, HW is used primarily in domestic markets with limited quantities being exported. It is anticipated that exports of this class will increase.

Soft White (SW) is a preferred wheat for flat breads, cakes, pastries, crackers and noodles and is grown primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Soft white is a low protein wheat, usually about 10%. SW represents just over twenty percent of total U.S. exports, primarily to Asia and the Middle East. Subclasses are soft white, white club and western white.

Soft Red Winter (SRW) is grown in the eastern third of the United States. SRW is a high yielding wheat, but relatively low in protein, usually about 10%. SRW is used for cakes, pastries, flat breads, crackers and snack foods. This fall-seeded wheat comprises about fourteen percent of U.S. wheat exports. There are no subclasses of this class.

Durum, the hardest of all U.S. wheats, provides semolina for spaghetti, macaroni and other pasta products. This spring-seeded wheat is grown primarily in the same northern areas as hard red spring, while smaller winter-sown quantities are grown in Arizona and California. Durum comprises nearly five percent of total U.S. wheat exports. Subclasses are hard amber durum, amber durum and durum.


What kind of wheat is best for me?

Wheat is wheat, right? Not necessarily. Will you make nutty loaves of deep brown bread or light, flaky pastries with your wheat? It all depends upon the best ways to prepare them. You should store a variety of wheat, (at least two different kinds) so you always have the right wheat for your baking needs. Experiment and find out which ones your family enjoys!

Hard Red Winter Wheat Hard Red winter wheat is high in protein and fiber, it's the most common wheat available. Excellent for making whole wheat loaves. Can also be used to extend red meat in meals.
Hard White Winter Wheat Also very high in protein and fiber, it has more softer, lighter flavor than Hard Red Wheat. Used to make light and fluffy bread. Great for rolls and scones. Can be used to extend white meat in meals.
Soft White Wheat A great Wheat for use in making flaky pastries, piecrust, cakes, crackers and breakfast cereals. It's lower in gluten and protein that most Wheat, so it is not recommended to use in breads.


Be sure that you are buying grain suitable for human consumption. DO NOT BUY FEED GRAIN! It is in feed channels because it is NOT suitable for human consumption. All grains are graded. Most grade #1 wheat is OK for people. Generally grades #2-#5 are not.

Here are some things to watch out for. Be especially careful when buying directly from an elevator or directly out of the field. Know how the wheat has been cleaned.

DOCKAGE - Dockage refers to the amount of foreign material that is present in grain out of the field -- e.g. grasshopper legs, weeds, dirt, pebbles, etc. If dockage levels are too high then the grain can’t be adequately cleaned and is usually sold for feed. Before you buy understand what cleaning processes have been used to clean the grain you are purchasing. Make sure that it is “table” clean -- ready to be eaten.

MOISTURE - Know what the moisture level is of the grain you are buying. If it is over 10% you may have difficulty. Over 12% it simply won’t store properly. Generally 7-10% will store just fine.

BUSHEL WEIGHT - Know the bushel weight of the wheat you are buying. Generally wheat should weigh 60 lbs to the bushel, however, it can easily vary between 58 and 62 lbs/bushel. If it is under 58 lbs/bushel be careful. It may have kernel damage or be too lightweight to grind properly.

KERNEL DAMAGE and/or BROKEN/SHRUNKEN KERNELS - make sure that the wheat you are buying doesn’t have kernel damage or a high level of broken/shrunken kernels. You can visibly check for broken kernels by examining the wheat. Insect damage can also be spotted by looking for kernels with small holes in the end.

INSECT/DISEASE Damage - Make sure that the wheat has not been damaged by insects and that there is no trace of smut or other diseased kernels.

Good Wheat & Wheat Smut Smut is a fungal infection of grains. It causes the grain heads to produce masses of black smut spores instead of seeds.

Good Wheat     Wheat Smut

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