Ancient Grains

Grains that date from very early in the domestication of crops, approximately 8,000-10,000 years ago. Eg Einkorn, Emmer, Khorosan


Beard (awns) deter bird and animal damage


Beardless wheat varieties, meaning no awns, are conveniently cleaner and easier to thresh free of chaff

Breeding/Classical Plant Breeding

The deliberate, manual crossing of plants from chosen plant parents, followed by selection of new varieties with desirable properties from the resulting populations.

Club wheat vs lax wheat

Compact club wheat is useful in windy regions to reduce selfthreshing when heads bounce against each other when ripe. Lax heads, with widely spaced spikelets, are usually long and more fragile in the wind than denser heads


Two copies of its 7 chromosomes: 2 x 7 = 14 chromosomes. Triticum monococcum. eg einkorn

Extraction Rate

While the word Extraction implies something that has been removed or taken away, in milling terms it actually refers to how much has been left in. How much of the wheat berry has been extracted to make the flour? Whole wheat or whole grain flour is 100% extraction. With the integration of more regional and smaller mills, we may begin to see more flour labels making reference to their extraction rates. Common categories, such as High Extraction, are not regulated, so only a direct dialogue with the miller will provide insight as to what they determine to be high, medium or low extraction rates.


Genetically Modified Organisms, made through the insertion of genetic material using techniques of genetic engineering, rather than manual crossing of two plants. GMO corn and soy are common crops, but there is no GMO Wheat in the U.S. GMO wheat varieties have been developed and tested but are not legally allowed to be planted in the U.S. yet.


The mixture of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin, found in annual cereal grasses, such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale, which makes it possible for dough to stretch during fermentation and rise in the oven during baking.


hard vs soft is a measured physical hardness. Useful to know because hard wheat makes a sandy flour and soft wheat a velvety flour when stone or impact milled.


A variety that has been passed along in a family or by farmers that is of interest; usually it is modern and developed 50 or more years previously, but it can be any interesting variety handed down.


Older wheat varieties or grain crops that are a product of human selection and were developed before professional breeding programs existed, including Old World Landrace wheat varieties and also crosses made between Landrace varieties after 1900.


Six copies of its 7 chromosomes: 6 x 7 = 42 chromosomes. Triticum aestivum. eg spelt, bread wheat, club wheat (smaller seeds generally) *hulled wheat types

Hulled vs Free-threshing wheat

The hulled wheats are not free-threshing. Hulled wheats possess a weak rachis such that the spikes (heads) break apart during threshing into spikelets. The grain stays inside the spikelets. Hulled wheats can be planted in the form of the spikelets to shield seed from soilborne diseases. Broadcasting with a spreader is conveniently used to plant spikelets followed by rolling in the seed or harrowing. Specialized planters would be preferred for planting spelt spikelets to a depth of 1-1.5 inches. However, the bare grain can also be used for planting provided it has been dehulled without damage to the germ. Storage as cleaned spikelets gives increased protection from insect and rodent attack during storage. A special de-huller is required to dehull einkorn, emmer and spelt. Rice dehullers usually work well for these hulled wheat types. (hull = husk = chaff) Note that pearling machines are not appropriate for the production of hulled wheat seed or whole grain, since the pearling process removes a significant amount of bran and germ.

IP (Identity Preserved)

The process by which a crop is grown, handled and processed under controlled conditions that guarantee it has not commingled with other varieties and has maintained its unique identity from farm to end-user.

Impact Mill

Impact mills pulverize grain upon impact, either by using gravity or directly by giving it a pulverizing blow from a rotor, hammer or pin.


Wheat varieties that have been grown for hundreds of years without modern breeding or genetic interference. Wheat that naturally adapted to its environment through farmer selection and with more genetic biodiversity. Landrace types were in use before refined flour milling was invented, therefore they are likely good flavored and interesting for whole grain end use.


Developed since the revelation of Mendel’s Laws of inheritance in the late 1800s i.e. purposeful crosses generally to make hard-red wheat varieties for refined flour milling until 1950s (hyper-modern) when genes were modified by mutation to produce very short stature wheat for modern conventional agriculture as well as the refined flour miller.

PVP seed

Plant Variety Protection provides patent-like rights to seed breeders and developers of plant varieties, giving them the right to exclude others from selling or reproducing the protected variety, usually for up to 20 years from the PVP’s issuance . A grower who purchases and PVP seed may save the seeds of a PVP variety for planting for their own use but cannot legally sell or distribute the seeds in any way. Unlike utility-patented seed, PVP seed can be used by anyone to breed their own novel varieties.  


Number of sets of chromosomes. Wheat has 7 chromosomes in each set


A plant, though not a member of the grass family, whose fruit or seeds can be ground into flour and used or consumed as grains. Eg Amaranth, Buckwheat, Quinoa

Red Wheat vs. White Wheat or Purple

Modern commodity wheat grain is classified as “red” or “white”. The classification is quite distinct because the modern “red” wheat varieties have been specifically bred to be of a particular hardness and type, which has a bran color that is usually dark and called “red”. Modern white wheat bred to have light colored bran is called “white“. It is less popular with the refined flour millers because it is generally soft and yields less refined flour than the (hard) red varieties, e.g. only 66% vs 76% refined flour respectively. However, makers of cookies, cakes and noodles really like this kind of soft wheat flour, hence its existence. “Hard white wheat” is a modern invention = white wheat suited to more efficient refined flour milling; it is also popular for lighter colored whole wheat products. The distinctly “red” modern wheat types can usefully resist pre-harvest sprouting in the field after ripening in wet summer weather. The distinctly “white” modern wheat types are generally grown in areas with completely dry summer conditions during ripening. If “white“ types are grown in regions with wet summers they are likely to sprout in the ear while still in the field, so reducing their ability to make a well risen bread. The fault is recognized using the “Falling Number” lab. test. Landrace wheat types are much more varied in their bran color than modern commodity wheat. There are many landrace varieties with a color intermediate between the two extremes of “red” and “white”. Since bran color, or kernel color, seems to be associated with ability to resist preharvest sprouting in the field it is likely that the depth of bran color suggests the degree of resistance to pre-harvest sprouting. Wheat with a purple bran color e.g. Ethiopian purple durum wheat is also seen among the landrace varieties.

Roller Mill

The standard for industrial flour production introduced in the mid to late 1800's, in which a series of cylindrical rollers rotate at different speeds, shearing and crushing grain as it passes through the gaps. Designed to more efficiently remove all traces of bran and germ, in the service of creating high volumes of white refined flour.

Spring Habit Type

Refers to the Spring planting season. Spring habit types come to fruition after a short season of continuous growth usually in a steadily warming season. Shortest season spring types are likely the most drought tolerant. They are suitable for spring planting after severely cold winter, or as in California planting in the fall to make use of a warm rainy winter. Spring habit shows immediate upright growth.

Stone Mill

AKA Gristmill: stone mills create flour by grinding grain between two large stones, the bed stone which remains stationary on the bottom, and the revolving upper stone called the runner stone. The runner stone spins above the bed stone and is lowered to crush the grain. With stone milling, all components of the grain are left intact and are milled together, retaining the full nutritional value in single pass, 100% extraction flour.


Four copies of its 7 chromosomes: 4 x 7 = 28 chromosomes. Triticum turgidum. eg. emmer, durum, khorasan, cone, rivet, pollard (large seeds generally)


Seeds that have a coating of fungicide intended to protect them from rotting in the soil before germination.


Seeds that have no chemical treatments or coating of fungicide

Whole Wheat

Contrary to popular belief, FDA guidelines specify that any product - flour, pasta, bread, pastry etc - labeled as "Whole Wheat" must contain only whole wheat flour, in other words, 100% whole wheat. No other type of flour can be used or listed as an ingredient. The 51% rule commonly quoted (that Whole Wheat bread only has to be 51% whole wheat) applies to the FDA's more ambiguous term "Whole Grain" health claim, which is a whole other can of worms. From the FDA regulations website:
(a)Whole wheat flour, graham flour, entire wheat flour is the food prepared by so grinding cleaned wheat, other than durum wheat and red durum wheat, that when tested by the method prescribed in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, not less than 90 percent passes through a 2.36 mm (No. 8) sieve and not less than 50 percent passes through a 850 [micro]m (No. 20) sieve. The proportions of the natural constituents of such wheat, other than moisture, remain unaltered.
*What's important: the last sentence calling out the "natural constituents of such wheat", which means that all parts that make up the wheat kernel must be present in the flour. ALL components, meaning bran, germ and endosperm. If sifting or blending were permitted, this regulation could never be met.
**The first part of the regulation is the FDA setting a particle size standard, that whole wheat flour must be milled finely enough that certain percentages of particles pass through particular sieves. It does not mean that whatever doesn't fit through the sieves can be discarded.

Winter Habit Type

Refers to the Winter planting season. Winter habit varieties require a long total time in the ground and grow best after fall planting and initial establishment with prostrate growth, followed by a prolonged dormant time under snow; they grow upright in the warmth of spring and come to fruition during summer, but they cannot tolerate really severe winters such as in Canada. Winter habit types show prostrate initial growth. It appears that in California, winter habit types can be planted until Valentine’s Day, so that they are above ground and well established before the Spring Equinox; planted later they do not come to fruition satisfactorily.