Wheat (Triticum spp.) is one of the food plants typical of the subtropical region, which is included in the group of cereal plants (grains) of the Poaceae family (Poaceae). It is said that wheat is a food crop that was first cultivated by mankind long before people knew rice and corn. Based on archeological excavations, it is estimated that wheat originated in the area around the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, namely the area around Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
Chinese history shows that wheat cultivation has existed since 2700 BC. there. Currently, wheat has become a staple food in more than 40 countries and is consumed by almost the entire world population, including the people of Indonesia. Wheat grows in subtropical and Mediterranean areas such as Russia, the United States, southern Canada, north to central China, Turkey, India, and Australia.
Wheat growing areas in Indonesia
Indonesians are now becoming increasingly familiar with dietary sources of carbohydrates derived from wheat, such as bread and instant noodles. Indonesia is not a wheat-producing country, but the demand for wheat is increasing every year. So far, Indonesia’s wheat requirements are still being imported from America and Australia.
To reduce wheat imports, wheat cultivation in Indonesia must be expanded to meet the increasing demand for wheat flour. Several regions in Indonesia have the potential to become wheat-producing countries, such as the Pasuruan Regency in East Java.
Conditions for growing wheat plants in Indonesia
Good and ideal areas for growing wheat in Indonesia are the mid- to highland areas, that is, areas that have an altitude of 800 m above sea level (above sea level) with a minimum rainfall of 600 mm per year.
The desired air temperature for wheat plants is between 15 and 25 C with humidity between 80 and 90%. This wheat flour-producing plant grows well in loose, fertile soil and is high in organic matter. Wheat plants do not like soil that is too wet, muddy, and waterlogged. The ideal soil pH for wheat is between 6.5 – 7.0.
Wheat seed varieties suitable in Indonesia
Indonesia Agricultural Development Agency has conducted several studies that have produced several wheat varieties that are suitable and suitable for cultivation in Indonesia, namely Dewata and Selayar wheat varieties. Some of the characteristics of good wheat seeds suitable for cultivation are as follows:
1). Seeds come from healthy and disease-free plants.
2). The seeds come from mature panicles on the main stem.
3). Seeds have a uniform shape and color,
4). Seeds are pest and disease free, and
5). Has a high and even weight.
Land preparation for wheat cultivation
The land is cleared of weeds and previous crop residues, then the land is plowed or hoed to a depth of 25 cm. The purpose of plowing is to loosen the soil so that the soil is well-aerated. Leave for 2-3 weeks after plowing. Then make beds with a width of 1.5 m or 2 m, a bed height of 25-30 cm, and a bed length adapted to the soil conditions. The distance between the beds is 50-60 cm.
Types of base fertilizers for wheat plants and methods of applying base fertilizers
Wheat crops should not be treated with basic fertilizers on fertile soils. However, if wheat is grown on poor or less fertile soil, basic fertilizers must be given so that the plants can grow optimally. Basic fertilization occurs at the same time as the bed is made. Fertilizer is sprinkled evenly over the bed, then stirred evenly or covered with soil and left for 1-2 weeks. The basic types of fertilizers for wheat are slurry/compost up to 10-25 tons per hectare, TSP/SP36, KCl, and ZA/urea. The fertilizer dose is adjusted to the condition of the soil.
How to plant wheat and the right time to plant wheat
After the beds are established, the wheat seeds can be planted 1-2 weeks later. The planting method is TABLEA (Direct Seed Planting) system like planting corn or country rice/upland rice. The beds are made of wood in rows, and the distance between them is 20 cm x 10 cm or 25 cm x 10 cm when growing wheat. Ditugal soil to -/+ 5 cm deep, then put the seeds in the hole 3-4 grains per hole, then cover with soil again. The right time to plant wheat is at the end of the rainy season or the beginning of the dry season.
Wheat crop maintenance
If it does not rain, after planting wheat seeds, the land must be irrigated so that the seeds can germinate quickly and grow well. Subsequent watering is carried out at least 3 times as follows:
a). For wheat plants, 1 month / 30 days after planting, after weeding,
b). When the wheat plant is 45-65 days after planting, that is, when the wheat plant enters the bearing stage until the panicle emerges,
c). When the wheat plant is 70-90 days after planting, it is in the grain-filling phase until it is mature.
Weeding on wheat plants is done up to 2 – 3 times depending on the weed growth conditions. Weeding is done to reduce competition/confusion for nutrients between plants and weeds to allow plants to grow well. Weeding is done before applying supplemental fertilizer.
Types of fertilizers and dosage of supplementary fertilizers for wheat plants
Top-up fertilization occurs after weeding. Supplementary fertilizers for wheat crops are given at least 2 times, the first time when the wheat is 7-14 days after planting and when the wheat is 1 month old. The following are types of fertilizers, doses, and times of fertilizing wheat;
a). First follow-up fertilizer: Age 7-14 days after planting. The types and dosages of wheat fertilizer per hectare are 100 kg of urea, 100 kg of SP36/TSP, and 50 kg of KCl.
b). Second follow-up fertilization: Age 1 month after planting. The type and dosage of the second supplementary fertilizer are the same as for the first supplementary fertilizer, namely 100 kg of urea, 100 kg of SP36/TSP, and 50 kg of KCl.
Control of pests and diseases in wheat
Like cultivated plants in general, wheat plants are not free from pests (plant disturbers). Several types of pests and diseases commonly found in wheat include earthworms, green ladybugs, aphids, and fungal diseases. Wheat pests can be controlled by spraying insecticides according to the type of pest attack. While fungal diseases are controlled by spraying fungicides.
Age/time of wheat harvest
Wheat crops can be harvested between 90 and 125 days of age after sowing (depending on the variety and altitude of cultivation). The characteristics of wheat plants that can be harvested are when 80% of the clumps have germinated, all parts of the plant namely straw, stems, and leaves have turned yellow and the seeds have hardened.
The wheat is harvested with a sickle, then the harvested panicles are dried in the sun. After drying, the grain is threshed with a threshing machine or manually. The wheat harvest should take place in sunny weather.