What is the history of wheat?

The modern wheat crop is the staple food of millions of people and it's origins can be traced back almost 10,000 years.

Wheat historical development

Wheat is the staple food of millions of people, being one of the three globally produced Cereals (Maize and Barley being the other two). Although rice is the second largest produced cereal in the world, its production is localised to Western and Eastern Asia. The cultivation of wheat was started some 10,000 years ago, with its origin being traced back to southeast Turkey. It was called Einkorn (Triticum monococcum) and genetically is described as a diploid, containing two sets of chromosomes. At a similar time, Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum) was being domesticated.

This was a further genetic development as Emmer was a natural hybridisation between two wild types of grass - Triticum urartu (closely related to wild einkorn (Triticum boeoticum), and an Aegilops species. Both of these were diploids which meant that this new wheat was now a tetraploid, i.e. it had four sets of chromosomes. Durum wheat is also a tetraploid and developed through a natural hybridization just as Emmer wheat did. Over the years farmers continued to make selections from their fields of wheat’s that showed favourable traits – ease of harvest, yield etc. and new wheat’s started to dominate.

Spelt and Common bread wheat became the favoured types. These two were again the result of natural hybridisation between Emmer wheat and the wild goat-grass Aegilops tauschii. This hybridisation took the tetraploid to a hexaploid, now containing six sets of chromosomes (i.e. 42 chromosomes), somewhat different to the 14 in the original species. This ‘natural’ genetic development, whilst being highly successful, has taken many years so biotechnology is now exploring the ways that genetic management can be done faster and more efficiently with very targeted gene manipulation.

Recommended Yara fertilisers for wheat

Wheat agronomy and fertiliser advice
Wheat agronomy and fertiliser advice

Looking for even more information ...

If you would like more information and would like to speak to our arable specialist or to one of our area managers please find all their contact details here.

Contact your local Yara area manager or agronomist


Where can I buy Yara fertiliser ...

If you would like to find your nearest Yara supplier or merchant simply use this searchable map with all their contact details here.

Where can I buy Yara fertilisers >