The flour used to make your toast, bread, or buns comes from wheat.
Wheat starts life as a seed planted by a Wheat Farmer who needs to do a lot of work before it can be sent to a mill for processing into flour.
New Zealand wheat varieties are known as winter crops. This means that the farmer sows the seed in autumn, the grain grows over winter, and it is harvested in summer.
Most New Zealand wheat is grown in the South Island mainly in the Canterbury region.
To become a wheat crop ready to be harvested and sent to the mill, the Farmer needs to:
Plough the wheat field to prepare the soil and recycle weeds and other debris.
The turning of the soil allows debris from previous crops to compost down and release nutrients.
Sow the seed at the correct depth and cover immediately.
The wheat plant will then grow slowly during winter and start to look like a field of grass.
The wheat grows rapidly in spring when there is a lot of sunshine, warmer days, and rain.
Sometimes Fertiliser such as Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphates are added to supply essential nutrients to help grow a better crop.
The Farmer needs to watch out for diseases which attack the plant, insects and pests, and weeds which strangle growth.
Usually a Farmer will use herbicides for weeds, and fungicides for disease. The Farmer needs to be careful though as using too much may damage the environment and harm the wheat crop.
The wheat ripens and the nutrients from the plant are channeled into the grain. Sometimes the farmer may retain part of the crop to become seed for the next season.
The crop is ready usually sometime in December or January which is when the farmer will harvest the crop.
They so this using a combine harvester (which looks similar to a big tractor!). The combine harvester cuts down the wheat plant and separates the grain from the stalks.
Following the harvest the farmer stores the grain before he can sell it.
He must be careful though and ensure that the moisture content is low enough – if it is too high, the grain will go mouldy and germinate making the crop worthless.
Then, we ready. The Farmer will send his grain to the mill to make flour.