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How Wheat Grows: Spring to Harvest

In Kansas, the winter wheat is planted in the fall. The wheat sprouts and establishes roots. It is a green growing plant when winter begins. The cold weather causes the young wheat plants to become dormant (stop growing).

As the air and soil temperatures rise in the spring, the wheat plants will break dormancy and start growing again. As the wheat plants mature, they will produce a seed head – one head of wheat per stalk. Once the seeds in the head of wheat have been pollinated and have matured, the wheat plant itself will begin to die. The wheat seeds, also called kernels, will be harvested when they have dried and developed a hardened outer shell.

The stalks (stems) of the wheat plants are long and slender. They can be easily broken by hail, blown over by strong winds, or pushed down by hard rain. If the stalk is damaged while it is still providing nutrients to the developing seeds, the wheat seeds may not develop correctly or the plant may not produce as many seeds as it should. If the stalk is damaged near the end of the growing process, the seeds may fall out of the head of the wheat plant (called shattering) and fall to the ground where they cannot be harvested.

Explore how Kansas wheat usually grows in the spring – from the 1st week of April through harvest in the 3rd week of June. The pictures were taken near Hoisington, Kansas in northern Barton County – which is near the center of the state.

1st Week of April
3rd Week of April
4th Week of April
1st Week of May
2nd Week of May
3rd Week of May
1st Week of June
2nd Week of June
3rd Week of June – Harvest