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U.S. and California Wheat Classes

There are hundreds of varieties of wheat produced in the United States, all of which fall into one of six recognized classes: Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Hard White, Soft White, Durum, and Soft Red Winter. California grows all of the U.S. wheat classes except Soft Red Winter.

location of wheat classes in California
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Wheat has two distinct growing seasons. Winter wheat is sown in the fall or winter and harvested in the spring or summer; spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in late summer or early fall.  Most varieties grown in California are genetically spring wheat varieties, i.e. do not require vernalization, however because the majority of California wheat-growing regions have very mild winter temperatures, spring wheat can be sown in the fall or early winter. Since market classifications typically refer to the season of production, not growth habit, California's red wheat production is referred to as Hard Red Winter wheat.

Wheat classes are determined not only by the time of year they are planted and harvested, but also by their hardness, color and the shape of their kernels. Each class of wheat has similar family characteristics, especially as related to milling and baking or other food use.

Hard Red Winter - Hard red winter wheat is an important, versatile bread wheat with excellent milling and baking characteristics. It has medium to high protein (10.0 to 14.0 percent), hard endosperm, red bran, and strong and mellow gluten content. It is used in Artisan and pan breads, Asian noodles, hard rolls, flat breads, and general purpose flour.

Hard Red Spring - Hard red spring wheat is an important bread wheat with excellent milling and baking characteristics. It has high protein (12.0 to 15.0 percent), hard endosperm, red bran, strong gluten, and high water absorption. It is used in pan breads, hearth breads, rolls, croissants, bagels, hamburger buns, pizza crust, and for blending.

Soft White - Soft white wheat has low protein (8.5 to 10.5 percent) and low moisture, and provides excellent milling results. It is used in flat breads, cakes, biscuits, pastries,  crackers, Udon-style noodles, and snack foods.

US classes of wheat and location US Wheat Associates
U.S. Wheat  - Large/Printable Image
Hard White - Hard white wheat has a hard endosperm, white bran, and a medium to high protein content (10.0 to 14.0 percent). It is used in instant/ramen noodles, whole wheat or high extraction flour applications, Artisan and pan breads, and flat breads.

Durum - Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheat classes with a high protein content (12.0 to 15.0 percent), yellow endosperm, and white bran. It is used in pasta, couscous, and some Mediterranean breads.

Soft Red Winter - Soft red winter wheat is a high-yielding wheat with low protein (8.5 - 10.5%), soft endosperm, red bran, and weak gluten. It is used in pastries, cakes, cookies, crackers, pretzels, flat breads, and for blending flours. This class of wheat is grown primarily in the eastern third of the United States.