Characteristics of wheat grains
Each grain of wheat consists of the following parts:
- Protective coating or husk: It is the one that protects the grain. Is commonly known as bran. Consists mainly of fiber. It is completely removed when wheat is milled and flour is refined.
- External casings: The outer layer is called the pericarp, the central layer or integument mesocarp and the inner layer, epicarp. These layers are mainly composed of minerals, proteins and vitamins, which are assimilated by the body when swallowed whole wheat but they are eliminated in the refining process.
- The inner layers: They are:
- Testa or tegmen, an intermediate layer between the outer casings and the endosperm or albumen. It consists mainly of oils and dyes.
- Endosperm or albumen: It is the internal layer of the wheat grain and the one that represents the greater percentage of the whole grain (between the 80 and 90% of the gross weight) Albumen this formed by carbohydrates, such as starch. The function of this part is to provide reserve substances for the growth of the new plant.
- Germ: it occupies the bottom of the endosperm. This consists mainly of proteins, oil, enzymes and vitamins of group B. It consists of the radicle (embryonic root) and the plumule (Embryonic leaf) From this part of the grain the new plant is born.
Origin and uses of wheat
A great debate about the origin of wheat has always existed. The consensus view is that the cultivation of this cereal began about 10,000 years ago from wild species harvested by the ancient hunter-gatherers in Southeast Asia. Archaeological remains of wheat bread were found in Turkestan in 6000 BC. In southern Europe, it began to be cultivated in the fourth millennium BC. The Egyptians and Romans cultivated it widely. He was brought to America by Spanish and English.
Most of the world wheat production is aimed for feeding. Almost 75% of this production is used for the production of wheat flour. Most of this flour, especially those from soft wheat varieties are used for the production of bread. The flours from hard wheats are used mainly for making cakes, biscuits, etc.
In addition to flour, it should be considered that a good proportion of grain is saved for new plantings. A smaller proportion is used for the manufacture of industrial products such as starch, gluten or dextrose. Lower quality grains and by-products of the refining process are also intended for feed industry.
Production of wheat in the world. Major producing countries
Wheat is cultivated in almost all parts of the world. It is the product to which more proportion of arable land is destined. In the year 2000 it was estimated that about 230 million hectares world area were devoted to this crop. China is the largest producer in the world. This is followed by the United States, Russia, Ukraine and France.