May 27, 2005

   (click photo for larger image)
grain storage

Wheat - I   


"More foods are made with wheat than any other cereal grain."

Beginning in late spring and early summer throughout the Great Plains region of the U.S., a restrained excitement begins to grow in rural towns and farm family households. Nervousness about weather accompanies the anticipation of ripening grain fields and the imminent harvests. A greater part of what was the native prairie that once spanned from Texas into Canada is now cultivated wheat lands. Starting in late May in north Texas and Oklahoma the wheat ripens progressively to the north culminating in North Dakota, Montana and adjoining states in August. Within a matter of weeks tens of millions of tons of wheat grain will be harvested and stored in bins and elevators, large and small, which dot the plains landscape as though sprinkled from some great salt shaker. Over the fall and winter months this produce will be sold into the world's largest commodity market and will move on to domestic processors or to ports for shipment to foreign countries.

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"Wheat feeds the vast majority of the inhabitants of the planet (along with rice and corn). More foods are made with wheat than any other cereal grain. One bushel of wheat contains approximately 1 million individual wheat kernels. Each tiny seed has 3 parts: the endosperm, the bran, and the germ.

"The endosperm is about 83% of the wheat kernel. It is used to make white flour. To make whole wheat flour, the endosperm is combined with the bran and the germ."

"Bran is made up of the outer layers of the wheat kernel. Bran is used in whole wheat flour. It is also used in breakfast cereals."

"The germ is tiny - about 2 1/2% of the whole wheat kernel. The germ is the part that will sprout and grow into a new wheat plant if the kernel is planted. Wheat germ is sold in grocery stores and food markets. Whole wheat flour also contains wheat germ."

"It is certainly the most important of all the cereals. For this reason men of science have explored its caryopsis in the deepest and most intimate of details: they know every little secret and they have analyzed each and every cell."

"For millers, the caryopsis is a small masterpiece of nature made up of external layers and an internal kernel. The layers and the kernel are shown in the drawing with their proper names."

"The external layers and the internal kernel of the grain have their own specific chemical and morphological characteristics. In the external layers of the caryopsis, the chemical characteristics are given by the concentration of cellulose (fibre), minerals, and protein. In the internal kernel, the presence of starches is dominant."

"There is a third, distinct part of the caryopsis, the "germ". It is the embryo destined to create a new plant (let's not forget that the caryopsis of the wheat is a seed ...)."

"The wheat germ is, from a chemical and nutritional standpoint, an absolute masterpiece. Unfortunately, however, it is rich in fats that can easily go rancid. For this reason, during milling, it must be removed from each grain so that its fats are not lost in the flour (or in the semolina) making preservation precarious."

"The "strategic" objective of modern wheat milling (for both soft and durum wheat) is the internal kernel of the grain, a concentration of starches that, in addition to another basic chemical component, protein, make up the nutritional (and technological) nucleus of the wheat and the products obtained from milling wheat."

Information sources

Web Link - wheat kernel info
Web Link - more wheat kernel info

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Enid, Oklahoma - grain storage

Photos Enid, Oklahoma - 1972

Grain Storage Elevators - Enid, Oklahoma

Enid, Oklahoma - 1972

It is said that Enid Oklahoma has the third largest grain storage capacity in the world.

I am not able to find data to support this statement, however, when one sees these enormous grain storage "elevators" (the common name for them) parked like fleets of massive ships it is not hard to believe.

The structures are much the same scale of very large skyscrapers lying down. They exceed 1000' in length and are between 100' and 200' in height.

The structures are cast concrete and are traditionally painted white.

This type of grain storage, in this case devoted almost entirely to wheat wheat, seems to have peaked in the 1980's.

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Anne Porter

The first poem from Four Poems in One
At six o'clock this morning
I saw the rising sun
Resting on the ground like a boulder
In the thicket back of the school.
A single great ember
About the height of a man.
Web Link - Information about Anne Porter

George Beggs 5/2005 - Feedback is welcome

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