As grain ( mhd. Getregede , actually "that [carried by the earth]") or grain are on the one hand the mostly annual plants of the family of sweet grasses that are cultivated for their grains (caryopses), on the other hand the harvested grains. The fruits serve as a staple food for human nutrition or as fodder, as well as raw materials for the production of luxury foods and technical products.
Cereal grains consist of the starchy and (to a lesser extent) also protein-containing endosperm , the fatty seedling , the intergrown testa and pericarp and the endosperm and lying between shell protein-containing aleurone layer . The protein contained in some types of grain ( wheat , rye , barley , triticale ) is also known as glue or gluten . Other types are gluten-free ( corn , rice , millet and bamboo seeds ).
For most uses, the fruits are separated from the mown plants by threshing after they have ripened , whereby in some varieties the husks and palea attached to the skin still remain on the grain, in a few primitive varieties also glumes and fragments of the spindle. With most types of flour, the shell is traditionally removed as completely as possible by grinding , grinding or other processes and used separately as bran ; this is not the case with whole-grain flour . In order to obtain storable products, the seedling must also be removed or heat-treated. It can be used to extract grain germ oil.
For consumption, cereal fruits or their endosperm are mainly ground and baked as bread , boiled as porridge or processed into pasta , for example . Bread can only be made as flatbread from grains with a low gluten content. The most important cereal crops for human consumption are rice, wheat, corn, millet, rye, oats and barley . Barley, oats, corn and triticale are mainly used as fodder.
The main types of grain
Wheat - ( Triticum ), main grain in temperate zones. It is also the type of grain with the best baking properties.
- Einkorn row - diploid
Emmer row - tetraploid
- Emmer ( T. dicoccum ), next to einkorn, the oldest known type of wheat, was already cultivated in the Neolithic.
- Durum wheat - ( T. durum ), used for pasta, main growing areas are North America and southern Europe .
- Kamut - ( T. durum x polonicum ), a natural hybrid of durum wheat ( Triticum durum ) and Triticum polonicum .
- Spelled row - hexaploid
- Rye - ( Secale ), important in cold regions and on light, acidic and sandy soils; Bread grains and fodder.
- Barley - ( Hordeum ), follows wheat as a less demanding fruit in the crop rotation; Cattle feed - brewing barley (spring barley) for malt production .
- Oats - ( Avena sativa ), also known as the “European ancient grain”, used to be a staple food in Scotland ( oat flakes , porridge ), and is now widely used worldwide as fodder.
- Triticale - a cross between wheat ( Triticum aestivum L.) and rye ( Secale cereale L.).
- Rice - ( Oryza ), main grain in tropical zones, staple food in Asia.
- Maize - ( Zea mays ), staple food of the peoples of North and South America and Africa , distributed worldwide as fodder.
Millet - a collective term for various types of grain with spherical, small-grained, mostly yellow grains from the genus Sorghum , Panicum , Pennisetum , Eleusine and others. a.
- Millet, which is available as a food in the German-speaking area, is mostly panicle millet and is now mainly grown in northern China. Before the introduction of the potato, it was a staple food in Central Europe. The millet is primarily used as a small animal food.
- Only sorghum is important for the global economy as a staple food in Africa and central India, and as a feed, fiber plant and for sugar and biofuel production in the USA.
- Locally important staple foods are also pearl millet (Sahel zone, steppes of India, Pakistan), finger millet (Central Africa, South India), teff (Ethiopia), and fonio millet (parts of West Africa).
Grains in the narrower sense are cultivated forms of sweet grasses (Poaceae). The origin of the agricultural cultivation of many types of grain can no longer be determined. Cereals, in and were Horse Owning the Middle East ( Fertile Crescent ) agricultural historically has practiced for more than 10,000 years ago. The first cereals cultivated were einkorn, emmer and barley. They spread in Central and Western Europe about 7,000 years ago. Wild grain was used as food 32,000 years ago.
The time of sowing and harvesting strongly depends on the climatic conditions and the altitude of the cultivation area. There are typical early harvest areas (for example the Lower Rhine Plain or the building land ) and late harvest areas (for example the Swabian Alb ).
After sowing and germination, winter cereals need a period of frost to be able to shoot ( vernalization ) in spring . It can therefore be sown from September and then, depending on the type of grain, harvested from July of the following year. Due to the longer vegetation period and, in particular, the better use of winter moisture and spring warmth, the yields of winter cereals are far above those of summer forms, which led to the predominant spread of winter cereals. An earlier harvest is also possible. Winter rye , winter wheat , winter barley and winter triticale are the most important types of grain in Central Europe. Until the end of the 19th century, Emmer was one of the most commonly grown winter cereals.
In contrast to "winter cereals", summer cereals only need about six months before they are ready to be harvested. It is sown from March and harvested from July. Oats, maize and spring barley are the most important species in Central Europe. Summer rye and spring wheat are less relevant . Millet was an important summer crop before it was displaced by maize .
Stages of growth and harvest
The growth stages of cereal plants are described in detail on the so-called BBCH scale . This enables a largely standardized description of the developmental stages of plants according to phenological characteristics and their coding. This makes a comparison possible. The scale differentiates between 10 macro stages (macro stage 0 = germination to macro stage 9 = death), which are further subdivided into micro stages, in which a more precise differentiation is described. This is how the maturity stages of the grain are differentiated in the scale: (micro stages in brackets)
- Milk maturity (73–77): a milky liquid can be squeezed out of the grain by squeezing it between the index finger and thumb. The grain, which is still green, reaches its final size during milk ripening.
- Dough maturity (83–85): the substance that can still be squeezed out is no longer liquid, but has a much firmer consistency. The fingernail impression is still reversible.
- Yellow maturity (87): The grain is hard and can no longer be squeezed out , but it can be bitten into with good teeth. The fingernail impression is irreversible.
- Fully mature (89): There is no further growth. The grain is ripe. It is now difficult to break with a fingernail.
- Dead maturity (92): The water content has decreased so much that the grain can no longer be pressed in or broken with the fingernail.
- Emergency maturity (not officially on the BBCH scale, but corresponds to around 93): Premature maturation due to adverse circumstances - for example due to drought stress . Where normally still further strength u. a. would be stored, the grain is now brought to maturity instead, as the plant has a pronounced lack of water.
Grain is usually harvested when it is fully or fully ripe. Threshing requires dead maturity, which is also reached after the harvest. Harvesting with combine harvesters , however, is only possible when the harvest is dead. If nature does not play along, you can - if permitted by law - with sikkanten such. B. glyphosate the maturation can be accelerated.
In the cereal fruit, even when it is completely ripe, only the endosperm and peel are dead in the biological sense. Both the seedling and the aleurone layer consist of living cells and breathe. With a water content of around 15%, this leads to an annual starch loss of between 0.25% and 2%.
In Germany, types of grain must be approved by the Bundessortenamt . The following number of grain types were approved for the various grain types in 2016.
|Type of grain||number|
|Maize (silo use, early ripening group, silo ripeness up to S 220)||59 varieties|
|Maize (silo use, maturity group medium early, silo maturity number S 230 to S 250)||87 varieties|
|Maize (grain use)||191 varieties|
|Winter soft wheat||140 varieties|
|Spring wheat||20 varieties|
|Spring barley (two rows)||54 varieties|
|Winter barley (two rows)||35 varieties|
|Winter barley (multiline)||45 varieties|
|Winter rye||32 varieties|
|Summer oats||26 varieties|
|Winter triticale||33 varieties|
|Winter fur (spelled)||13 varieties|
|Sorghum millet (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench)||8 varieties|
The following rules make it easier to differentiate between the types of grain that are common in Central Europe:
- Wheat usually has no awns , there are also awned varieties.
- Barley usually has very long awns, there are also varieties with short awns; Barley awns are usually of different lengths; the awns of the lower grains are longer, so that all awns end almost as if cut off at the same height.
- Rye has medium-length awns, which are usually the same length.
- Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) also has medium-length awns, which are usually the same length; The plant height in a triticale stand is, however, much more homogeneous compared to a rye stand.
- Oats have no awns, and in contrast to the aforementioned cereals, the grains grow on a panicle and not on an ear .
Grains are mainly grown in rotation with other species. The different types of grain are susceptible to different diseases. In the period before global trade relations were established, mass infestations repeatedly resulted in bad harvests, famines or health effects on the population. Today, cereal diseases mainly cause economic damage.
In Central Europe important diseases in wheat, rye, barley and oats are:
- Black- legged : ( Gaeumannomyces graminis )
- Powdery mildew of grass ( Blumeria graminis )
- Ergot ( Claviceps purpurea )
- Rust diseases (see rust fungi ):
- Leaf and husk tan ( Septoria nodorum )
- Leaf drought on wheat ( Septoria tritici )
- DTR leaf drought of wheat ( Drechslera tritici-repentis )
- Barley streak disease ( Drechslera graminea )
- Net blotch of barley ( Drechslera teres )
- Barley speckled necrosis ( Ramularia collo-cygni )
- Barley Rhynchosporium leaf spot disease ( Rhynchosporium secalis )
- Fusariosis : Pathogens are, for example, Fusarium graminearum , Fusarium culmorum , Fusarium avenaceum .
- Strawberry disease ( Pseudocercosporella herpotrichoides )
- Blackness mushrooms
- Grain brandy :
Pseudograins or pseudocereals
There are grains that are used in a similar way to cereals, but are not classified as sweet grasses and are therefore not cereals, for example buckwheat , quinoa or amaranth . These are therefore called pseudograins .
Food and luxury foods
The use of grain in food and luxury goods is diverse, as the following list shows:
- Ground cereal products , such as
- Cereal flakes
- Grain coffee , also: malt coffee made from barley, rye, wheat, spelled
- Grain germs , grain sprouts
- Cereal foods
- Grain germ oil
- Cereal puff products such as puffed rice , popcorn
- Grain starch , mostly obtained from corn, rice, wheat
- Malt from brewing barley and from it beer
- Spirits ( brandy , whiskey ).
Grain is the most important animal feed in the world. It is mainly used by ruminants as whole plant silage (GPS), e.g. B. fed as rye, barley or corn GPS. According to the FAO , 35% of global grain production of 2.23 billion tons was used as animal feed in 2008/09. In Switzerland, grain was grown on 143,600 hectares in 2018, of which just under 42% was used as animal feed (60,000 hectares).
The industrial use of grain includes energetic use, i. H. the production of biofuels and the direct burning of straw and grain as well as the material use, for which the starch in particular is the relevant raw material. Almost exclusively soft wheat and maize play a role as starch suppliers, while all other types of grain are used almost entirely for the production of food or in breweries (barley).
The worldwide use of grain in biofuels is given by the FAO at 125 million tons. In 2009/10, an estimated six percent of world grain consumption is used for bioethanol (97% corn in the United States), 47% for food, 35% for animal feed and 12% for other (seeds, technical uses, losses). In the 2006/07 marketing year, 9% of almost 43 million tons of grain in Germany was used for material industrial use, 3.5% for energy, 62% for animal feed, 20% for food and 2.3% for seeds.
The composition of grain naturally fluctuates, both depending on the environmental conditions (soil, climate) and the cultivation technique (fertilization, crop protection).
|Type of grain||Energy
( kJ )
( g )
World grain harvest
In 2018 the following cultivation results were achieved worldwide (table sorted according to harvest quantities worldwide):
|2018||Acreage in hectares||Yield in dt per ha||Grain quantity in tons|
|Type of grain||world||D.||world||D.||world||D.|
|* Millet here includes sorghum and millet (" real millet ") Source: FAO : Faostat 2018|
Development of global grain production (in millions of tons, including triticale, fonio, etc.):
The largest grain producers
According to the FAO, 2.93 billion tons of grain ( barley , oats , millet (sorghum and millet), maize , rice , rye and wheat ) were harvested worldwide in 2018 . The world's 20 largest grain producers together harvested 80.7% of the total, according to FAO, Faostat, 2019. This table also contains the production volumes in Austria and Switzerland:
(in t )
|1||People's Republic of China||608.038.671||13||Pakistan||47,877,218|
Bread grain harvest in Austria and Switzerland
According to the FAO, the following quantities of bread grain were harvested in Austria and Switzerland in 2018:
|Grain (in t)||wheat||rye|
Per capita consumption in Germany
Degree of self-sufficiency with grain in Germany
The degree of self-sufficiency with grain in Germany was 117% in 2014/15.
The grain price presupposes fixed base or standard values for price-determining properties of the grain. Deviations from the standard values lead to corresponding discounts or surcharges on the basic price.
The grain price is based on the following price-determining properties:
- Hectolitre weight .
- Base or reference humidity.
- Various price-determining quality features. These are, for example: degree of contamination, degree of germination, sedimentation value (for wheat), crude protein content.
The base values for price-determining properties can be determined through stock exchange or trading practices , or through legal regulations such as the United States Grain Standards Act in the USA .
The pricing can take place in different ways. In the economic area regulated by the market economy, prices are mainly determined on commodity futures exchanges . In demarcated economic areas, a state can fix the price of grain directly or indirectly through a state purchase guarantee (= intervention purchases). In contrast to pricing on commodity futures exchanges, a distinction must be made between purchase and sales prices.
Commodity futures exchanges enable growers to market the grain before harvest or cultivation in order to obtain protection against falling prices. This advantage for the grower is bought with the waiver of profit sharing when prices rise. At the same time, market information on commodity futures exchanges becomes transparent and available to all market participants.
When it comes to the price of grain, a distinction must be made between the price that is determined on the commodity futures exchange and the price that the grower actually receives, provided the grain corresponds to the specified standard or base values. The price differences result from freight and manipulation costs between the place of price formation and the place of the transfer of goods (= place of actual demand) as well as the fact to what extent supply exceeds or falls below demand at the place where the grain is available.
One of the most important and largest commodity futures exchanges for grain is the CBOT (Chicago Board of Trade) . For the most common types of grain such as maize or wheat , the globally recognized price is set there in cents per bushel . Europe is the most famous commodity futures exchange for grain in the NYSE Euro Next risen MATIF ( Marché à Terme International de France ) in Paris.
Most of the grain trade is carried out on the basis of formal agreements between various corporations . In Germany, the standard conditions in the German grain trade are an implicit part of every grain trade . In Austria, preference is given to the customs of the stock exchange for agricultural products in Vienna, and in Switzerland the customs of the Swiss grain exchange . In overseas trade, these contracts are largely meaningless. There, the contracts of the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) are preferred for grain and the contracts of the Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations (FOSFA) for oilseeds .
Since the Neolithic , people have known that grain must be dried for permanent, damage-free storage. An early device believed to be a kiln was found at Bab edh-Dhra on the Dead Sea . Since grain can only be safely stored with a moisture content of 14.5% or more, but depending on the weather it is threshed with a higher moisture content, the moisture must be removed by drying. If the storage were too moist, fungal attack would be the result. Grain drying is very energy-intensive. Since not all of the accepted grain can be dried immediately during the harvest, lots of grain are temporarily cooled to +7 ° C in many mills until they can also be dried.
However, 14% moisture is not enough for grinding. Since the dry husk would splinter too much during grinding and it would be more difficult to separate the bran and flour, the grain must be "wetted" (moistened) again to 16-17% moisture before grinding, depending on the "glassiness" of the grain ) become.
Silos for the storage of grain, so-called flat and tall silos, are common today . However, simple warehouses ( flat storage ) are also used as interim storage facilities. It is essential to monitor and maintain the grain in the warehouse. Grain breathes: This means that there is a redistribution of moisture in the grain and, in some cases, water also escapes - the grain "sweats". This favors the growth of microorganisms. In addition, around 40% of a bulk silo is hollow. The air condition of these cavities determines the “climate” of the bed. Therefore constant monitoring of humidity and temperature is necessary. The basic rules of storage include cleaning the grain before it is stored and, from time to time, exchanging air in the silo. Grain is considered to be storable under the following conditions: humidity below 14%, temperature below 20 ° C (temperatures of 5–8 ° C are best). Occupancy less than 1%.
Store protection is the prevention of infestation by stored pests , but also combating them when infestation has occurred. The FAO estimates the worldwide storage losses due to animal pests in grain stores at around 10–30%, which corresponds to an annual loss of 180 to 360 million tons of grain. In Germany the loss rate is likely to be less than one percent, in developing countries it is often more than 30%.
The damages that occur are:
- Eating damage: total amount decreases; Selective feed: only seedlings or nutrient tissue are eaten
- Pollution: feces, urine, dead animals in the food, spider threads, hair
- Changes to the ingredients: becoming rancid , decrease in protein or vitamin content
- Consequential damage: changes in smell and taste, changes in baking properties, costs for removal and cleaning
The most common storage pests are:
- Mites : flour mite
- Rodents : brown rat , house mouse
The fight against possible infestation takes place in the mill mainly through three types of control:
- Heat disinfestation : The whole mill is sealed and heated to approx. 50–60 ° C with warm air. The temperature must be kept constant for at least one to two days. This kills all insects at all stages of development.
- Cold disinfestation : Grain is transported on pallets into a special container, in which it is suddenly cooled to −20 to −30 ° C using liquid nitrogen or oxygen. This also kills all stages of insect development.
- Chemical control : Use of approved gases (e.g. sulfuryl fluoride ), spray or mist methods. However, this should not be done by laypeople. Sometimes heat disinfestation and chemical control are also combined in order to achieve optimal and complete control. The heat acts as a stress factor on the insects and increases the effectiveness of the fumigant.
Cereal boxes next desired cereals other plants that are not grown, but by wandering seed or by impurities in the growing seeds were introduced. These are mostly parts of other types of grain or other inedible plants ( weeds ). These can reduce the quality of the flour, the yield or the quality of the seeds for the next period. The proportion of impurities in the grain should therefore be kept low.
Most weeds that grow in cereal fields have seeds that are very different from cereal grains and can therefore be technically removed. Today, a large part of the impurities is separated off in the combine through sieving and air flow transport.
Seeds contaminated at higher levels with other grains and will not appear suitable for trade and consumption can always sown nor as feed grain or mixed with other varieties as Gemengesaat be used. If feed grain is to be harvested before it is ripe and fed green or ensiled, contamination from other varieties is of little consequence.
In the grain mill , the delivered grain is checked for contamination before it is accepted. The raw material delivered to the mill by the farmer is usually not pure grain, but rather contaminated with weed seeds, stones, clods of earth, metal parts, insects, foreign grain and much more. All impurities together are called “ trimmings ”. If the stocking percentage is too high or if there are even living pests in the lot, the miller will refuse to take them. The exact amount of stock can be determined in the mill laboratory by means of a "stock analysis". Before grain is stored in the mill, it goes through the so-called "silo or black cleaning ". A distinction is usually made between "foreign stock (black stock)" and "grain stock".
The negative influences of stocking are manifold:
- Toxicity of weed seeds and ergot
- Impairment of smell and taste
- Increase in the mineral content
- Deterioration in the baking properties of the flours
- Damage to machines, increased wear
- Increase in the required storage volume.
The cleaning is carried out in stages using various separation methods in the following machines:
- Sieving machine
- Permanent magnets
- Aspirator (air separator)
- Stone separator
- Scrubbing machine
- Color sorter
- Rotary winnowing machine .
Edible grain that leaves the mill is now of an unprecedented degree of purity.
The shredding is done today with the most important and most common machine: the roller mill . The roller mills usually house two or four pairs of rollers which rotate in opposite directions at different peripheral speeds. They are designed either as corrugated or smooth rollers. The "heap" that arises from one roll pass is passed on in different ways by the plansifter and depending on the granulation. All small flour particles (<180 µm) are immediately drawn off as flour. The coarse shot, on the other hand, is directed to another roller mill, where the process is repeated. Semolina can be cleaned on a semolina cleaning machine. Another eight to ten grindings and sieves can follow. The passage through a roller mill and a plansifter is called a "passage".
Degree of grinding:
Mixing, loading, bagging
By mixing in mixing machines, the miller can mix different passage flours together to form a type flour that complies with the DIN standard . Different baking qualities can also be balanced out. Today's flour silo cells are electronically monitored by level indicators. The finished flours come into a bulk loading system. The usual form of delivery is the filling of the silo wagon. In large bakeries and bakeries, the flour is blown from the silo wagon into the flour silo cells with compressed air. Only special products or flours for small bakeries are packed in sacks. Many large mills now also have small pack systems on which 1 to 5 kg packs are packed and palletized ready for retail.
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