More than 100 years ago, Illinois led the nation in the production of wheat. Today, the state ranks just outside the top 10. In 2014, Illinois farms produced 46.2 million bushels of the grain.
Illinois farmers primarily grow soft red winter wheat, a common ingredient in food with fine particulate flour. Some uses include cereals, cakes, cookies, pretzels, pancakes, crackers, ice cream cones and part of all-purpose flour. Uses expand to include pet foods and glues.
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The southern half of Illinois, from Springfield southward, produces more than 80 percent of wheat in the state. The longer growing season in southern Illinois allows a double-crop enterprise. Farmers harvest wheat early enough in the growing season to also plant and harvest soybeans by fall – two different crops keeping soil in place grown and harvested in one year.
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Southern Illinois farmers plant winter wheat in October. The crop grows a bit in the fall and then rests dormant until late winter when growth resumes. Farmers harvest the grain in June and July.
Source: Illinois Wheat Association