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:
- Wheat occupies 480KHa. The main wheat producing areas are the Gezira Project, New Halfa Project, El Rahda project River Nile State, Northern State, White Nile State. Of the three wheat growing areas in Sudan, the Gezira produces the largest volume. Here wheat, grown in the cooler «winter» months, is rotated with cotton, groundnuts and sorghum. Due to its importance in food security and high commodity prices it remains a very important crop.
- Main Varieties:
- The main varieties cultivated in Sudan are: Khalifa, Takana, Emam, Al Nillan and Arkeena. The average yield in Sudan is 2.5 T/Ha compared to the world average of about 2.8 T/Ha.
- Marketing Information and Uses:
- Mainly used for food but also used as feed/fodder.
- Domestic production of wheat is insufficient to meet growing needs and imports attempt to cover the deficit. Wheat production was 400K Tonnes in 2009 but the planted area and yields can vary significantly due to dry weather conditions and other factors. Imports amount to 80% its annual needs and Sudan is currently aiming to attract investment from the Persian Gulf and China to boost production to its annual usage. The country will consume 2 million metric tons of wheat in 2010-2011, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
- 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, however, are achieved in the cooler parts of its ecological range. It develops best at temperatures of 10-24°C and in warm climates it is therefore grown at high altitudes or during the cold season.
- Water Requirements:
Typically, wheat in Sudan requires irrigation. Water availability is especially important for germination and initial crop growth and development. Irrigation is also very critical during pollination in order to produce good grain quality.
New wheat producing projects in the north of Sudan are irrigated with Pivot Systems while other lands are flood irrigated.
- Nutrition Requirements:
- Soil should be subject to soil analysis for nutrient availability.
- Harvesting Period:
- Harvest usually starts in late April and continues until May.
- Harvesting Methods:
- The larger projects use mechanized harvesting while smaller farmer rely on manual labour to collect the crop.
- Planting Period:
- Wheat normally needs between 110 and 130 days between planting and harvest, depending upon climate, seed type, and soil conditions. In Sudan the appropriate planting period is in mid-October until mid-November. Later sowing has a negative impact on the productivity of the crop.