Can Hydroponics Grow Wheat?
Yes. Wheat can be grown in a hydroponics system but only if built to manage wheat properly. When growing wheat hydroponically, you need to take note of the season. Under normal circumstances, it takes 120 days for wheat to grow, but in winter, this could be as long as 240 days. While you won’t be growing it outdoors, you need to consider the temperature changes.
In this article, we have provided a simple guide to growing wheat and tips to follow to ensure you get the best results.
How to Grow Wheat Hydroponically
- Check and ensure that your wheat seeds are healthy and free from chemical insecticides or pesticides. Inspect the grains to ensure that they are not shriveled. If they look to be in a condition, you can go ahead to soak them.
- Soak the wheat seeds for about 12 hours to speed up the germination process. You can soak it overnight if you have the time. This will make the seed coat soft and easier for sprouting.
- To encourage the wheat to grow properly, you can place them in a place that is warm and dark for a couple of days.
- Place the seeds in the hydroponic system or grow tray and allow them to sprout. This could take up to 24 hours. Ensure you have the proper layer in your growing media to support the seeds. Using growing media like coco-coir is great and should be placed at the bottom of the grow tray just after the seeds have sprouted.
- Ensure that the seeds get enough water and nutrients. You should also check on the system and the growing wheat regularly.
- Just like any other plant, Wheat requires enough sunlight to grow. When the shoots of the wheat are about an inch in height, you need to find a sunny spot for them. Moving the system to a sunny window would be best if you prefer to keep the system inside. You can substitute for natural sunlight by getting a light bulb.
- The wheat should grow rapidly within the next few weeks.
- By 120 days or less, it should be ready for harvest. All you need to do is get a pair of scissors and cut the wheat from the bottom of the stem as close to the growing surface as possible.
Tips for a successful hydroponic wheat growing operation
Use the right water type
Since you won’t be using soil in hydroponics, it is important to ensure that you’re using the cleanest water available. Always check the composition of the water to ensure it does not raise the pH of the hydroponics system making it more difficult for the plants to grow.
Using municipal water, which could contain elements like calcium, chloride, magnesium bicarbonates, and sulfates, could affect the pH and EC/PPM of your nutrient solution and cause problems for plant growth.
The nutrients fed to the plants will determine if you will enjoy a good harvest or not. When getting hydroponics nutrients, you should stick to the nutrient manufacturer’s recommended dosage. This dosage is usually based on the amount of water used in the hydroponics system.
Going over the dosage might affect the health of your plants. In addition, you should allow the nutrients to fully mix into the reservoir, by adding them in small amounts before reaching the right dosage. Dumping all the nutrients in the full dosage in one go could cause some essential elements to precipitate out of the solution, which would lead to nutrient deficiency.
pH is one of the most important parameters of plant health and one you should keep track of. All plants have a preferred pH range where they can thrive and grow. In traditional farming, soil acts as a natural buffer and helps to maintain a steady EC and pH; so you won’t have to always check the pH of the soil as often as you would in a hydroponic system.
You will have to continuously adjust the pH levels to ensure it remains balanced. If the pH gets too high, you can lower it with acid. When using acid, you should only go for lower-strength acid and add small amounts regularly. This should ensure that you do not overshoot your pH target and drop the pH too low.
Oxygen is life. It is necessary for all living things to exist and for plants to grow. Plants usually draw in oxygen through their leaves at the top and through their roots at the bottom when in a traditional farm setting. In hydroponics, you will have to create access to oxygen for the plants’ root systems.
In hydroponics, you can ensure that the plants get oxygen through the use of air pumps, air stones, bubblers, or an air gap.
Pick the Right Hydroponic Method
There is a wide range of hydroponics mediums out there and choosing the best hydroponic growing method can be the difference between losses and a harvest. Each method comes with its own benefits and drawbacks so ensure you learn more about them before you get started.
When you’ve finally made a decision after making your research, you can begin to create your hydroponic garden. It is best to go with an automated system as this will save you time and effort
Choose A Suitable Growing Media
The growing media is designed to support the plants. It acts as the soil in the hydroponics system, however, it should be pH neutral. When it comes to choosing a growing media, there are several options to go for. Rockwool is one of the most commonly used growing media in hydroponic systems due to its sterile nature, however, it does produce some dangerous dust during the setup.
Double-Check That You Have The Needed Equipment
Building your hydroponic system would require a long list of equipment. To ensure you have everything in place, create an initial checklist when buying the hydroponic system. Your initial checklist should include a container, hydroponic containers, growing mediums, a grow table, grow lights, nutrients (or fertilizer), and the materials for your hydroponics method.
If you’re using the wick method, you will need wicks. If you’re going for the drip-feed method, you will drip tubes and drippers. Once you have the essential equipment, you go for accessories like a feeding timer, a light timer, temperature control, and air pumps.