Can I Grow Wheat At Home – Tips For Growing Wheat In Home Gardens

Can I Grow Wheat At Home – Tips For Growing Wheat In Home Gardens

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

You want to eat healthfully and incorporate more grains into your diet. What better way than growing wheat in your home garden? Wait, really? Can I grow wheat at home? Sure, and you don’t need a tractor, grain drill, combine, or even the acreage that full scale wheat farmers require. The following wheat growing information will help you learn how to grow wheat in a home garden and caring for backyard wheat grain.

Can I Grow Wheat at Home?

It is very possible to grow your own wheat. It seems like a daunting task given the specialized equipment and large farms that commercial wheat farmers utilize, but the fact is that there are a couple of fallacies regarding growing wheat yourself that have turned even the most die-hard gardener from the idea.

First off, most of us think you would need acres and acres to produce even a little bit of flour. Not so. An average backyard of say, 1,000 square feet (93 sq. m.), is enough space to grow a bushel of wheat. What does a bushel equal? A bushel is about 60 pounds (27 kg.) of grain, enough to bake 90 loaves of bread! Since you probably don’t need 90 loaves of bread, devoting just a row or two to growing wheat in the home garden is sufficient.

Secondly, you might think you need special equipment but, traditionally, wheat and other grains were harvested with a scythe, a low-tech and low cost tool. You can also use pruning shears or a hedge trimmer to harvest the wheat. Threshing or removing the grain from the seed heads just means you beat it with a stick and winnowing or removing the chaff can be done with a household fan. To mill the grains into flour, all you need is a good blender.

How to Grow Wheat in a Home Garden

Depending on the planting season, choose from winter or spring wheat varieties. Hard red wheat cultivars are the most common used for baking and are available in both warm and cool season varieties.

  • Winter wheat is planted in the fall and grows until early winter and then goes dormant. Spring’s warm temps stimulate new growth and seed heads are formed in about two months.
  • Spring wheat is planted in the spring and ripens in mid to late summer. It can stand drier weather than winter wheat but doesn’t tend to yield as highly.

Once you’ve chosen the variety of wheat you wish to grow, the rest is fairly simple. Wheat prefers a neutral soil of about 6.4 pH. First, till the soil to a depth of 6 inches (15 cm.) in a sunny area of the garden. If your soil is lacking, amend a couple of inches (5 cm.) of compost in as you till.

Next, broadcast the seeds by hand or with a crank seeder. Rake the soil to work the seed into the top 2 inches (5 cm.) of soil. To aid in moisture conservation and help control weeds, follow up with a 2 to 4 inch (5-10 cm.) layer of loose straw mulch spread out over the wheat plot.

Caring for Backyard Wheat Grain

Keep the area moist to encourage germination. Fall plantings will be less likely to need additional water, but spring plantings will need an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week. Water whenever the top inch (2.5 cm.) of soil is dry. Warm season wheat may mature in as little as 30 days while those crops that are overwintered may not be ready for harvest for up to nine months.

Once the grains are going from green to brown, cut the stalks to just above the ground. Tie the cut stalks together with twine and allow them to dry for two weeks or so in a dry area.

Once the grain has dried, spread a tarp or sheet on the floor and beat the stalks with a wooden implement of your choice. The goal is to release the grain from the seed heads, which is called threshing.

Collect the threshed grain and place in a bowl or bucket. Point the fan (on medium speed) to allow it to blow the chaff (the papery covering around the grain) from the grain. The chaff is a lot lighter so it should fly from the grain easily. Store the winnowed grain in a sealed container in a cool dark area until ready to mill it with a heavy duty blender or countertop grain mill.


Let’s start off by stating a little-known, but important, fact about growing your own wheat. Believe it or not, it’s illegal to grow wheat at home.

In the 1930s, a law was enacted that prohibited US citizens from growing wheat at home unless the crop was properly documented and the associated fees were paid on an annual basis (surprise surprise) to artificially inflate commercial wheat prices.

Yes, large corporations like Monsanto have been influencing regulations since before you can remember. Their latest regulatory ventures have ensured their monopoly of genetically modified seeds.

The 1930s law represents a very gray area, but even as recently as 1995, people have been ordered to pay fines and destroy personal wheat crops following the 1940 Wickard v. Filburn Supreme Court decision.

Commercial wheat operations are often very traumatic to otherwise fertile land because they rely heavily on commercial pesticides and fertilizers for production.

So not only is growing your own wheat illegal unless you decide to jump through some bureaucratic hoops, it is also relatively difficult to manage in a home environment – especially when we strive for organic processes whenever possible.


The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 limited the area that farmers could devote to wheat production. Its stated purpose was to stabilize the price of wheat in the national market by controlling the amount of wheat produced. It was motivated by a belief by Congress that great international fluctuations in the supply and the demand for wheat were leading to wide swings in the price of wheat, which were deemed to be harmful to the US agricultural economy.

The Supreme Court's decision states that the parties had stipulated as to the economic conditions leading to passage of the legislation:

The parties have stipulated a summary of the economics of the wheat industry. The wheat industry has been a problem industry for some years. Largely as a result of increased foreign production and import restrictions, annual exports of wheat and flour from the United States during the ten-year period ending in 1940 averaged less than 10 percent of total production, while, during the 1920s, they averaged more than 25 percent. The decline in the export trade has left a large surplus in production which, in connection with an abnormally large supply of wheat and other grains in recent years, caused congestion in a number of markets tied up railroad cars, and caused elevators in some instances to turn away grains, and railroads to institute embargoes to prevent further congestion. Many countries, both importing and exporting, have sought to modify the impact of the world market conditions on their own economy. Importing countries have taken measures to stimulate production and self-sufficiency. The four large exporting countries of Argentina, Australia, Canada, and the United States have all undertaken various programs for the relief of growers. Such measures have been designed, in part at least, to protect the domestic price received by producers. Such plans have generally evolved towards control by the central government. In the absence of regulation, the price of wheat in the United States would be much affected by world conditions. During 1941, producers who cooperated with the Agricultural Adjustment program received an average price on the farm of about $1.16 a bushel, as compared with the world market price of 40 cents a bushel.

Roscoe Filburn was a farmer in what is now suburban Dayton, Ohio. [3] He admitted producing wheat in excess of the amount permitted. He maintained, however, that the excess wheat was produced for his private consumption on his own farm. Since it never entered commerce at all, much less interstate commerce, he argued that it was not a proper subject of federal regulation under the Commerce Clause.

In July 1940, pursuant to the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1938, Filburn's 1941 allotment was established at 11.1 acres (4.5 ha) and a normal yield of 20.1 bushels of wheat per acre (1.4 metric tons per hectare). Filburn was given notice of the allotment in July 1940, before the fall planting of his 1941 crop of wheat, and again in July 1941, before it was harvested. Despite the notices, Filburn planted 23 acres (9.3 ha) and harvested 239 more bushels (6,500 kg) than was allowed from his 11.9 acres (4.8 ha) of excess area. [4]

The Federal District Court ruled in favor of Filburn. The Act required an affirmative vote of farmers by plebiscite to implement the quota. Much of the District Court decision related to the way in which the Secretary of Agriculture had campaigned for passage: the District Court had held that the Secretary's comments were improper.

The government then appealed to the Supreme Court, which called the District Court's holding (against the campaign methods that led to passage of the quota by farmers) a "manifest error." The Court then went on to uphold the Act under the Interstate Commerce Clause.

By the time that the case reached the high court, eight out of the nine justices had been appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt, the architect of the New Deal legislation. In addition, the case was heard during wartime, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor galvanized the United States to enter the Second World War. [5] [6] The decision supported the President by holding that the Constitution allowed the federal government to regulate economic activity that was only indirectly related to interstate commerce.

The Act's intended rationale was to stabilize the price of wheat on the national market. The federal government has the power to regulate interstate commerce by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. In this decision, the Court unanimously reasoned that the power to regulate the price at which commerce occurs was inherent in the power to regulate commerce.

Filburn argued that since the excess wheat that he produced was intended solely for home consumption, his wheat production could not be regulated through the Interstate Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court rejected the argument and reasoned that if Filburn had not produced his own wheat, he would have bought wheat on the open market.

That effect on interstate commerce, the Court reasoned, may not be substantial from the actions of Filburn alone, but the cumulative actions of thousands of other farmers just like Filburn would certainly make the effect become substantial.

Therefore, Congress could regulate wholly intrastate, non-commercial activity if such activity, viewed in the aggregate, would have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, even if the individual effects are trivial.

Some of the parties' argument had focused on prior decisions, especially those relating to the Dormant Commerce Clause, in which the Court had tried to focus on whether a commercial activity was local or not. Justice Robert H. Jackson's decision rejected that approach as too formulaic:

The Government's concern lest the Act be held to be a regulation of production or consumption rather than of marketing is attributable to a few dicta and decisions of this Court which might be understood to lay it down that activities such as "production", "manufacturing", and "mining" are strictly "local" and, except in special circumstances which are not present here, cannot be regulated under the commerce power because their effects upon interstate commerce are, as matter of law, only "indirect". Even today, when this power has been held to have great latitude, there is no decision of this Court that such activities may be regulated where no part of the product is intended for interstate commerce or intermingled with the subjects thereof. We believe that a review of the course of decision under the Commerce Clause will make plain, however, that questions of the power of Congress are not to be decided by reference to any formula which would give controlling force to nomenclature such as "production" and "indirect" and foreclose consideration of the actual effects of the activity in question upon interstate commerce. [7]

The issue was not how one characterized the activity as local. Rather, it was whether the activity "exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce:"

Whether the subject of the regulation in question was "production", "consumption", or "marketing" is, therefore, not material for purposes of deciding the question of federal power before us. That an activity is of local character may help in a doubtful case to determine whether Congress intended to reach it. But even if appellee's activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce and this irrespective of whether such effect is what might at some earlier time have been defined as "direct" or "indirect". [8]

The regulation of local production of wheat was rationally related to Congress's goal: to stabilize prices by limiting the total supply of wheat produced and consumed. It was clear, the Court held,

that a factor of such volume and variability as home-consumed wheat would have a substantial influence on price and market conditions. Home-grown wheat in this sense competes with wheat in commerce. The stimulation of commerce is a use of the regulatory function quite as definitely as prohibitions or restrictions thereon. This record leaves us in no doubt that Congress may properly have considered that wheat consumed on the farm where grown, if wholly outside the scheme of regulation, would have a substantial effect in defeating and obstructing its purpose to stimulate trade therein at increased prices. [9]

Wickard marked the beginning of the Supreme Court's total deference to the claims of the US Congress to Commerce Clause powers until the 1990s. The Court's own decision, however, emphasizes the role of the democratic electoral process in confining the abuse of the power of Congress: "At the beginning Chief Justice Marshall described the Federal commerce power with a breadth never yet exceeded. He made emphatic the embracing and penetrating nature of this power by warning that effective restraints on its exercise must proceed from political rather than from judicial processes."

According to Earl M. Maltz, Wickard and other New Deal decisions gave Congress "the authority to regulate private economic activity in a manner near limitless in its purview." [10]

That remained the case until United States v. Lopez (1995), which was the first decision in six decades to invalidate a federal statute on the grounds that it exceeded the power of the Congress under the Commerce Clause. The opinion described Wickard as "perhaps the most far reaching example of Commerce Clause authority over intrastate commerce" and judged that it "greatly expanded the authority of Congress beyond what is defined in the Constitution under that Clause."

In Lopez, the Court held that while Congress had broad lawmaking authority under the Commerce Clause, the power was limited and did not extend so far from "commerce" as to authorize the regulation of the carrying of handguns, especially when there was no evidence that carrying them affected the economy on a massive scale. (In a later case, United States v. Morrison, the Court ruled in 2000 that Congress could not make such laws even when there was evidence of aggregate effect.)

The Supreme Court has since relied heavily on Wickard in upholding the power of the federal government to prosecute individuals who grow their own medicinal marijuana pursuant to state law. The Supreme Court would hold in Gonzalez v. Raich (2005) that like with the home-grown wheat at issue in Wickard, home-grown marijuana is a legitimate subject of federal regulation because it competes with marijuana that moves in interstate commerce:

Wickard thus establishes that Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself "commercial", in that it is not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity.

In 2012, Wickard was central to arguments in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services on the constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, with both supporters and opponents of the mandate claiming that Wickard supported their positions. [11]

Sow the Seed

After your soil has been raked or harrowed and is relatively level and clod-free, sow the seed. North Dakota State University research specialist Steve Zwinger says avoiding a too-thin planting is crucial, because leaving too much space between wheat plants invites weed problems. In the Plains states, a common sowing recommendation is a million seeds per acre, which would be roughly a pound of healthy-sized seed per 500 square feet. But keep in mind that sowing very small or very large seed will give very different numbers of seed. The amount of seed you sow in a very dry location with no irrigation should be lower, and the amount should be higher in regions with ample moisture.

You can broadcast seed with a hand-cranked rotary seeder like those used for lawns, or simply by hand-tossing, followed by raking the seed in. But Zwinger, like most experts, recommends sowing in rows, which provides for better germination, more uniform stands and easier weed control. To do so, make furrows with a hand or wheel hoe, drop in seed, and cover. Even better, use a push-type garden seeder, such as the traditional Planet Jr., or a jab-style corn planter (for more about push seeders, see our article Choose the Right Garden Seed Planter). Space rows 6 to 7 inches apart to provide effective ground coverage and weed control.

A solid stand of wheat is good at out-competing weeds nevertheless, whatever your sowing pattern or density, weeds will turn up uninvited. There will be no way around hoeing or, later, pulling weeds, and the reasons for doing so are not solely cosmetic. Weeds compete with your homegrown wheat for light, rooting space, water and nutrients, and if left to grow, they’ll produce a lot of seeds, each one of which will either contaminate your harvest or go into the soil to increase the number of weeds that will come up next year.


Three weeks after corn silks appear, start checking ears for peak ripeness. Pull back part of the husk and pierce a kernel with your thumbnail. If a milky liquid spurts out, the ears are at prime ripeness — rush those ears to the table, refrigerator, or freezer. Ears on the same stalk usually ripen a few days apart. A completely dry silk or a yellow or faded-green sheath means the ear is past its prime.

Leave ornamental corn and popcorn on the stalks to dry until the first hard frost. If the weather is cloudy and wet, cut and stack stalks in a cool, dry place until the corn dries.

Watch the video: Wheat Grass Garden