Along with maize and rice, wheat is one of the most important food crops. Wheat is a cereal grain, originating from the Levant region of the Near East and Ethiopian Highlands, but the crop is now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 MT, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize (784 MT) and rice (651 MT). In 2009, world production of wheat was 682 MT, making it the second most-produced cereal after maize (817 MT), and with rice as close third (679 MT). It is grown on about 220 million hectares worldwide, covering more land area than any other crop. Major wheat producing countries include China, India, USA, Russia and France.
- Triticum aestivum, Triticum durum
- Occurrence & Agricultural Importance in this Country:
- Cultivation Areas:
- Iraq's arable land is estimated at 8 million hectares, comprising less than 15% of the country's total area. However, only 4 to 5 million hectares is being cultivated. Arable land is mostly concentrated in the north and north east, where winter crops (mainly wheat and barley) are grown and in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Cereal production (mostly winter wheat and barley) is the principal agricultural activity in Iraq accounting for 70 to 85% of cultivated area.
- Main Varieties:
- The main varieties planted in Iraq are Alnoor, Ebaa 99/95, Wahat Al Iraq, Al Hashemeia, Sham 6, Dour 29, Al Rasheed, Al Hadbaa and Al Fateh. The average yield in Iraq is 1.1 T/Ha while the world average is about 2.8 T/Ha.
- Marketing Information and Uses:
With respect to crop production, Iraq’s agricultural activity is concentrated in two distinct regions. The predominantly rain-fed North and the largely irrigated center-South. Agricultural production is generally characterized by smallholdings, although the rain-fed farms of the North tend to be larger (averaging 10 to 30 Ha) than the irrigated farms of the center-South (averaging 1 to 2.5 hectares). Yields of the rain-fed crops are generally poor and as might be expected, vary significantly with rainfall amounts.
Per capita consumption 171.2 kg per year
- Wheat is mainly used for food but also used as feed/fodder.
- Wheat has been Iraq’s most important agricultural import in terms of both quantity and value for most of the past two decades. Iraq has been importing on average of 2.6 million Tonnes of wheat annually. The average annual value of total cereals (principally wheat) imports average around 750 million USD. Australia. The United States and Canada are Iraq’s primary suppliers.
- Crop Management:
Cultivation conditions and methods:
- Soil Type:
- Wheat can grow in different soils ranging from sandy to heavy types. Good soil drainage is a key factor for good productivity. Heavy, deep, humus-rich, well-aerated soils with a high water capacity and a pH between 5.5 and 7.5 are preferable. Nutrient-rich clay and black earth soils are ideal.
- Of all cereals, it is the most widely adapted; the highest yields. It develops best at temperatures of 10-24°C and therefore in warm climates it is grown at high altitudes or during the cold season.
- Water Requirements:
- Typical irrigation needs are 400 mm rainfall equivalent in a season. Water availability is more important for germination and initial crop growth and development. Irrigation is also very critical during pollination in order to produce good grain quality.
- Nutrition Requirements:
- Soil should be subject to soil analysis for nutrient availability.
- Harvesting Period:
- Rain-fed wheat is harvested in late spring (April-May) while irrigated wheat is harvested from May until June.
- Harvesting Methods:
- Mechanized mainly on big farms.