Wheat is grown on more land area than any other commercial crop and is the most important staple food for humans. Twenty percent of global calories come from wheat.
There are thousands of varieties of wheat, but they are grouped into six classes: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, hard white, soft white and durum. Each type has a specific use for food:
- Hard red winter wheat is used to make bread flour.
- Hard red spring wheat is valued for high protein levels, which make it suitable for specialty breads and blending with lower protein wheat.
- Soft red winter wheat is used for cakes, cookies and crackers.
- Hard white is used for noodles, yeast bread, flatbreads and snack foods
- Soft white is use for cakes, crackers, flatbreads and pastries.
- Durum wheat is used for pasta products.
Because of the many varieties of wheat, the crop is harvested somewhere around the world every month of the year.
With demand for the crop expected to increase 40 percent by 2030, agricultural innovation is important in helping enhance the productivity, sustainability and profitability of wheat for farmers. Monsanto has re-invested in wheat research in the past five years. In 2009, the company purchased WestBred, a wheat seed company in the United States. Since then, the company has focused its efforts on developing new conventionally bred wheat varieties while researching potential uses of genetic modification in wheat.