Kentucky's Wheat Industry
Kentucky ranks 17th nationally in wheat production. In 2014, Kentucky farmers harvested 510,000 acres of wheat with an average yield of 71 bushels per acre, producing 36.2 million bushels total. The largest wheat crop record is 45.8 million bushels which was produced in 2013. This is also a record average yield of 75 bushels an acre. The harvested area of 610,000 acres was the largest since 1982.
Top wheat counties in 2014:
Data provided by Kentucky Farm Bureau
Source: National Agriculture Statistics Service and Economic Research Commission
Wheat: The scoop on the World’s #1 grain
Wheat was first planted in North America by English colonists. Today, a large portion of wheat is raised in the western United States. Wheat is a very popular grain - in fact, three quarters of US foods that contain grain are made with wheat! We also export grain - half of America’s grain harvest is shipped to other countries. Wheat is grown on more land and is more widely exported than any other grain in the world. It is also the leading source of vegetable protein in human food.
Wheat grows best in cooler temperatures, so Kentucky farmers grow wheat through the fall, winter, and spring. They harvest it in June, weigh it, and sell it to local flour mills. The unit of measurement for wheat is called a bushel, which weighs about 60 pounds. Millers clean and grind the wheat kernels into flour that can be made into grain foods. Each bushel of wheat will make enough flour for 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread. The part of the wheat that is not used for food can be used for livestock bedding and landscaping.
There are six different classes of wheat grown in the united States, and each class is used for a different purpose. Some are better for baking cakes, others are better for breads, while others make fantastic noodles. Kentucky farmers typically grow Soft Red Winter Wheat, which is good for cookies, crackers, pastries, and flatbreads.
The US Dietary guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend we eat six 1-ounce servings of grains each day to be our healthiest. Of those six servings - at least half (three servings) - should come from whole grains. Whole wheat breads, crackers, and pastas are good choices. White flour wheat foods use flour with added iron, B vitamins and folic acid. Folic Acid enrichment has led to a 32% decrease in some birth defects since 1998.