Winter wheat is grown anywhere there is adequate snow cover or mild enough winters to prevent winterkill. Both hard red and soft white varieties are available. Hard red wheat is preferred for breadmaking. Soft wheat is preferred for use in cakes, cookies, batter, bulgar, pastries and breakfast cereals.
Like all winter cereals, good stands of winter wheat protect the soil against wind and water erosion. It also reduces compaction in the spring because the farmer is not under pressure to go onto the field when the soil is still too wet.
Winter wheat produces lots of straw which should always be left on the field unless needed for livestock. It improves soil tilth, creates pore spaces, and generally lightens up the soil when incorporated. The stubble alone, including the roots, makes up a quality residue. The chopped straw provides a large quantity of easily broken down organic material, with a high phosphorus content. The wheat can be underseeded with clover for additional nutrient benefits to succeeding crops.
Winter cereals are stronger weed competitors that spring sown cereals. Annual and perennial weeds are controlled with tillage before wheat is planted, and once it has become established, wheat competes well with weeds.
Most of the winter wheat production is marketed domestically as a cash crop for milling or processing. It can also be used in livestock rations.