Our summer wheat crop from the Presidio Garden

This spring we planted white Sonora wheat on the Northeast corner of the Presidio with the help of local third graders participating in our Early California Days program.

Mother and daughter planting wheat in the field prepared by archaeological intern Frank Arredondo. Photo by Frank Arredondo.
Garden interns Ila Rutten, Emily Johnson, and Alyssa Gregory from nearby Anacapa School tended the wheat field throughout the spring.

This month we harvested our crop and will save a portion of the wheat berries to plant a new crop next spring.We plan to grind remainder of the berries into flour for making bread and tortillas. The stalks or “wheat straw” are a great source of fuel and will be saved the next firing of our demonstration pottery kiln.

Archaeologist Mike Imwalle with the Presidio garden’s first wheat harvest. The plants are harvested after thoroughly drying in the field. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
After the heads of dry wheat are threshed, dry plant material or “chaff” is blown free, leaving the wheat berries to be planted next season. Demonstrated here by Associate Director Anne Petersen. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

White Sonora wheat was the most important crop during the California’s Mission period. Its glutinous white flour makes stretchable dough suitable for large tortillas. Because of this wheat, large white flour tortillas largely replaced corn tortillas in Mexico’s Northwest and the United States’ Southwest. It was the source of most of California’s flour through the Civil War. This variety is the oldest known in North America.

A portion of this year’s wheat berries, which will be saved for seed. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

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