This article is about the plant. Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The archaeological record suggests that wheat was first cultivated in the regions of the Children of the corn trailer in Russian Crescent around 9600 BCE. Botanically, the wheat kernel is a type of fruit called a caryopsis.
World trade in wheat is greater than for all other crops combined. Wheat is an important source of carbohydrates. Cultivation of wheat began to spread beyond the Fertile Crescent after about 8000 BCE. Jared Diamond traces the spread of cultivated emmer wheat starting in the Fertile Crescent sometime before 8800 BCE. Archaeological analysis of wild emmer indicates that it was first cultivated in the southern Levant with finds dating back as far as 9600 BCE. The cultivation of emmer reached Greece, Cyprus and India by 6500 BCE, Egypt shortly after 6000 BCE, and Germany and Spain by 5000 BCE. The early Egyptians were developers of bread and the use of the oven and developed baking into one of the first large-scale food production industries.
The oldest evidence for hexaploid wheat has been confirmed through DNA analysis of wheat seeds, dating to around 6400-6200 BCE, recovered from Çatalhöyük. From Asia, wheat continued to spread throughout Europe. Bronze Age, and was in common use until the late 19th century. Technological advances in soil preparation and seed placement at planting time, use of crop rotation and fertilizers to improve plant growth, and advances in harvesting methods have all combined to promote wheat as a viable crop.
When the use of seed drills replaced broadcasting sowing of seed in the 18th century, another great increase in productivity occurred. Yields of pure wheat per unit area increased as methods of crop rotation were applied to long cultivated land, and the use of fertilizers became widespread. Wheat genetics is more complicated than that of most other domesticated species. Wild emmer is itself the result of a hybridization between two diploid wild grasses, T. Hexaploid wheats evolved in farmers’ fields.