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Winter Wheat

Winter wheat is planted in the fall, and grows for about six weeks (looking very much like grass). During the winter the plant goes dormant and starts growing again in the spring. Eventually, a green stalk will emerge with a few smooth dark green leaves. A head emerges at the top of each stalk and begins to develop kernels. Different varieties of wheat vary greatly in the number and color of the kernels in a head. Once the kernels are mature, the plant will begin to dry, turning dark gold before harvest. Because winter wheat grows for so much longer than spring wheat, it ripens sooner in the summer and produces more grain. Winter wheat is primarily a dryland crop.


Wheat is the third most produced cereal grain in the world. Hard red winter wheat, the most common form of winter wheat grown in Montana, is used extensively to make breads and rolls. Hard red wheat is also blended with soft white wheats to make the all-purpose baking flour found in most homes. Montana wheat is exported for use around the world, and sold locally.

Central Montana Winter Wheat

Scientific Name


Growing Season

Planted September and mid-October. Dormant during the winter. Harvested mid-July to mid-August.


24.715 million bushels of winter wheat in Cascade, Chouteau, and Judith Basin Counties. 81.7 million bushels of winter wheat in Montana.

Did You Know?

  • Chouteau County is the largest producer of winter wheat in Montana, at 18.42 million bushels, it grows nearly twice as much as the 2nd place county (Hill, 9.838 million bushels)
  • Montana is the 4th largest producer of winter wheat in the U.S.
  • Montana grows 81.7 million bushels of winter wheat.
  • The U.S. is the 3rd largest exporter of wheat in the world.