production is unique in South Africa in the sense that there are three distinct
wheat production areas, each with their own challenges and specific
Wheat is one of the first plants to be domesticated as a food crop by ancient civilizations. It originated from wild grasses native to the arid countries northwest of Fertile Crescent (between Armenia and the Caspian Sea in western Asia) between 8 000 and 10 000 years ago. It is now grown in virtually all parts of the world and is considered an important grain crop in the world economy.
Wheat is special for several reasons:
The first wheat was planted in South Africa in the winter of 1652 by Jan van Riebeeck and by 1684 wheat production was well established in the Cape. The original cultivars grown in South Africa were brought here by trading vessels which travelled between Europe and the East Indies. Evaluation of wheat cultivars was started in 1891 with the first wheat breeding starting to take place in 1902.