Wheat and bread, meeting the farmer

Picardy, the region of wheat, barley and sugar beet

Generously received by the Duplaquet family, I learned a few things about wheat, and bread consequently. Since two generations they cultivate wheat, barley and sugar beets in a small village in the region of Picardy in the North of France. This being said the region is very conducive for it, whererever you look, you can see large fields of sugar beets. Mainly sugar beets today as the farmers await to harvest them by mid September or even later. And as soon as they did, they will sow the seeds to grow automne wheat on the very same fields to alternate the cultivation, because sugar beets for instance are very demanding for the soil. To grow wheat on the same field two years running works out well, but in the third year they will need to change the nutrient. For sugar beets they need about 150.000 seeds for a yield of around 90 ton per hectare, having a cost of over € 500 euros per hectare it's quite expensive to grow.

According to him, for bread, the most appropriate wheat is a tender species, the harder ones are used for pasta and are grown in the South. But I was told by a pastry chef that harder wheat can also be used for bread, for sourdough in particular because it stimulates the production of air pockets in the bread. In selecting the wheat, the quality is carefully monitored to assure an optimal yield. Joker for instance is an appropriate variety for bread because it contains enough proteins, over 11%. But before selecting the wheat to grow, he leaves several species to germ in a seed tray to check the quality and the sprouting potential.