Wheat has two distinct growing seasons. Winter wheat, which normally accounts for 70 to 80 percent of U.S. production, is sown in the fall and harvested in the spring or summer; spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in late summer or early fall. Almost all of the wheat grown in Montcalm County is winter wheat. Our wheat production in Montcalm County in 1998 was 15,500 acres.
There are six recognized classes of wheat: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter durum, hard white and soft white. Wheat classes are determined not only by the time of year they are planted and harvested, but also by their hardness, color and the shape of their kernels. Each class of wheat has its own similar family characteristics, especially as related to milling and baking or other food use. Montcalm County production is of these two classes:
Soft Red Winter
Grown primarily east of the Mississippi River. High yielding, but relatively low protein. Used for flat breads, cakes, pastries and crackers. Largest customers are China, Egypt and Morocco.
Soft White Wheat
Used in much the same way as Soft Red Winter (for bakery products other than bread). Grown mainly in the Pacific Northwest and to a lesser extent in California, Michigan, wisconsin and New York. Low protein, but high yielding. Produces flour for baking cakes, crackers, cookies, pastries, quick breads, muffins and snack foods Exported to Far East Asian reigon.