Along with maize and rice, wheat is one of the most important food crops. Wheat is a cereal grain, originating from the Levant region of the Near East and Ethiopian Highlands, but the crop is now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 MT, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize (784 MT) and rice (651 MT). In 2009, world production of wheat was 682 MT, making it the second most-produced cereal after maize (817 MT), and with rice as close third (679 MT). It is grown on about 220 million hectares worldwide, covering more land area than any other crop. Major wheat producing countries are China, India, USA, Russia and France (in that order).
- Poaceae, Genus: Triticum, MainSpecies: Triticum aestivum, Triticum durum
Occurrence & Agricultural Importance in Egypt:
- Cultivation areas:
- Wheat occupies about one-third of the total winter crop area. It is cultivated on about 1.3 MHa and the trend is for increase due to its importance in food security. New wheat plantations are established in newly reclaimed lands
- Main Varieties:
Sakha 69/93/94/61, Gemmaza 5/7/9/10, Giza 168/170, Misr ½ (durum), Beni Sewif 3 (durum), Sadsa 1/4/10 and Sohage 3 (durum)
Certain varieties carry special traits. For example, Gemmaza 5/7/9, Giza 168/170 and Sakha 93 are resistant to rust. Sakha 93 and Sadsa 1 are highly tolerant to water and soil salinity; Giza 165 and Sadsa 10 are resistant to high temperatures. Sadsa 4 is early ripening and Sahel 1 is drought tolerant
- Special Information:
- The average yield in Egypt is 6.5 T/Ha which is much higher than the world average of 2.8 T/Ha. However the total Egyptian production is about half of the country’s consumption needs (8.3 MT vs 17MT in 2009/10).
Marketing Information and Uses:
Wheat production increased from 2 million tonnes in 1982 to 6.8 million tonnes in 2003 as a result of the cultivation of high yielding, long spike varieties in the context of the National Campaign for Wheat Improvement and the price incentives offered by the State to wheat growers. It provides more than one-third of the daily calorific intake of Egyptian consumers and 45 % of their total daily protein consumption. Per capita consumption is the highest world-wide and reaches about 180-200 kg per year.
- Mainly used for bread making but also used for fodder
- Egypt imports significant quantities of wheat every year from the international market. It was in fact the number one wheat importing country in 2009/10 with 10MT out of a globally traded quantity of 112 MT in 2008.
Cultivation conditions & methods:
- Soil type:
- Wheat can grow in different soils ranging from sandy to heavy types, in both the Delta lands and new reclaimed lands. Good soil drainage is a key factor for good productivity. Heavy, deep, humus-rich, well-aerated soils with a high water capacity and a pH between 5.5 and 7.5 are preferable. Nutrient-rich clay and black earth soils are ideal.
- Of all cereals, it is the most widely adapted; the highest yields, however, are achieved in the cooler parts of its ecological range. It has C3 carbon fixation and develops best at temperatures of 10-24°C. In warm climates it is therefore grown at high altitudes or during the cold season. Productivity is excellent in the south of Egypt near the Sudanese borders in El Ewinate area and also in Toshka.
- Water requirements:
- Five to six irrigation events are recommended in flood-irrigated areas. Good productivity is also achieved in fields with pivot irrigation like Salhia, Alexandria Desert Road, Sinai, Shark El Ewinate and Toshka. Irrigation is very critical especially during pollination in order to produce good grain quality.
- Nutrition requirements:
- Soil should be subject to soil analysis for nutrient availability especially in new reclaimed lands. Most traditional farming in the Delta relies mainly on organic matter and nitrogen fertilizers as source for crop nutrition.
- Planting period:
Wheat normally needs between 110 and 130 days between planting and harvest, depending upon climate, seed type, and soil conditions. In Egypt the appropriate planting period is in late autumn (mid-November).
- Seed rate and sowing methods:
- This is subject to variety selection and planting method however most varieties are sown at a rate of 60–70 Kg per Feddan, with the exception of varieties with low tillering capacity. Most of the crop is sown by hand although using mechanisation would result in much higher and better yield and quality.
- Harvesting methods:
- Mechanisation although an important part of wheat cultivation in other places it is rarely used in delta farming.
- Post-harvest care:
- Very important in order to minimise grain losses and main storage is in open areas.