Cereal Crops and A Bale Out
After beef and sheep farms which are the two most common types of farming in England the production of cereal is the next biggest with wheat being the most popular by volume.
The origins of wheat go back many thousands of years to the early examples of production in Mesopotamia. Like so many other things it is to this region of the near Middle East that the first example of bread-making is discovered.
Wheat is one of the earliest examples of exported goods from the UK and precedes the Roman times. Even today a large percentage of production is exported.
Wheat is used in bread, biscuits and countless other processed foodstuffs that include many items on the supermarket shelves.
The seed consists of three parts and whole grain bread uses all of them. They consist of an outer husk called the bran and two other parts called the endosperm and the germ. Brown bread has had a proportion of the husk and germ removed and white bread consist solely of the endosperm.
One of the advantages of wheat over other cereals is that the seed at the top of the stalk is easily cropped by harvesters and this means the threshers are picking up very little stalk and weeds. The stalk of the wheat plant is of little commercial use other than the tiny straw croft making business for which it is ideal.
Other cereal stalks are collected and dried in bails and moved around in special bale trailers which typically carry ten tons.
Harvesting of this crop is usually done in August in Britain and growing is in spring or autumn. These days the normal yield of the seed is about ten tons a hectare where the Romans thought they had perfected it at three tons for the same area.
Modern agricultural science is constantly looking for ways to improve yields whether it is milk quotas from cows or wool from sheep and cereal growing is no different.
One of the inequalities of life on Earth is in the distribution of foods and the resulting overweight westerners gorged on fatty daily hamburgers and the millions of others in poorer countries with barely enough water to drink.
Countries like Britain have learnt the hard way over a thousand years or two that the balance of production and import of other foods is a critical matter to get right. It also means constant investment from central government in the form of subsidies which includes the set-aside practice where a farmer can get paid to do nothing with his arable field.
The economics of farming is a complicated matter to the layman.
Farmers always complain about something or other but most are in a job that they enjoy which is more than can be said for many other walks of life.