Durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) Is a herbaceous species belonging to the Poaceae family.
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, United Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Liliopsida Class, Poales Order, Poaceae Family, Tribe Triticeae and therefore to the Genus Triticum and the T. durum Species.
The term Triticum turgidum subsp is synonymous. Durum (Desf.) Husn.
The term Triticum, according to Varrone, derives from tritum battuto, for the use of beating the wheat to separate the grains from the spikes. The specific epithet durum comes from the Latin which means hard, rigid.
Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Durum wheat is a tetraploid wheat originating from an interspecific hybridization between two wild species widespread in the Fertile Crescent (today’s Iraq), that is: Triticum urartu (chromosomal number: 2n = 14, AA genomes) and a species still not known of the genus Aegilops Sytopsis section with chromosomal outfit 2n = 14, BB genomes. The spontaneous hybrid gave rise to the species Triticum dicoccoides (2n = 28, genomes AABB), the wild progenitor of durum wheat from which the Neolithic man has domesticated durum wheat.
From its domestication, which occurred rather late compared to the affirmation of agriculture, durum wheat has spread all over the world, also through the adaptation to different climates and different needs and, in recent times, with the creation of varieties with characteristics more suitable for intensive cultivation and mechanization.
The durum wheat in the world is cultivated on a much less extensive area than the common wheat and with a prevalent use for the preparation of pasta, after special milling which leads to the production of semolina instead of flour.
The durum wheat (Triticum Durum) differs from the soft for the following morphological characters;
– Spiga laterally compressed, instead of square, if viewed in section; glints carinated up to the base and lower giumelle always ending with one remains very long and often pigmented;
– Very large karyoxid (45-60 mg), with a transverse subtriangular session, with albumen that typically has a vitreous, ambrace, horny, rather than mealy structure; this is due to the particular protein composition of durum wheat, which therefore mainly gives groats and not flour;
– Last solid internode, for which the culm under the ear is resistant to crushing. Moreover the characters that most distinguish the cultivated from the wild are:
– rigid rachis that does not disarticulate when ripe and the seeds that are free from glumes, or from the floral wraps that surround them. The result is that the durum wheat, by means of threshing, releases seed free from straw.
As for the cultivation technique, both the durum wheat and the soft wheat are similar. They differ in some aspects such as:
– The sowing of durum wheat should be done with a slight advance on that of the soft one; which favors the preparation and anticipates, albeit slightly, flowering and maturation.
– The quantity of seed that in the past was sown much less dense than the tender: 120Kg / ha, today, especially in the areas that are not particularly arid, is increased by using larger quantities of seed, equal to 180-200 kg.
– In the alternation it is noticed how the new varieties are as demanding as the tender ones for which they turn into rotation as the first grain; in any case, the refusal is avoided given the sensitivity of the hard to the foot pain.
Even the practices of fertilization and weeding have become very similar although in recent times with the advent of organic production and agro-ecological production systems the tendency to use chemistry for both fertilization and control of weeds is intended to gradually decrease. For details of the organic wheat cultivation technique, see the following sheet.
Uses and Traditions –
Wheat or durum wheat evolved rather late (4th century BC), displacing spelled in the whole Mediterranean and Middle Eastern area in a hot and dry climate, where it is still widespread. The introduction of durum wheat on other continents is rather recent.
The official FAO statistics have only the word “wheat” without distinction between tender and hard; however it is estimated that the durum is extended on 9% of the total surface to wheat, therefore to a lesser extent than the soft one.
In Europe, the main producer of hardwood is Italy, which in 2006 earmarked 1.6 MHa out of a total of 2.3 MHa for wheat, with a production of 4.5 Mt.
Durum wheat has had a remarkable expansion in Italy in the 1970s following the agricultural policy followed by the European Community. Noting that the consumption of pasta increased and that European production was largely inadequate, the EC wanted to reduce the Community’s importation of durum wheat.
This policy has been and is of considerable advantage for Italy, which is the largest producer of durum wheat, and in particular for its southern and island regions where the production of this cereal has traditionally been concentrated. The community contributions per hectare, much higher than those of common wheat, have stimulated the expansion of the cultivation of durum wheat from the regions where before it was exclusively limited (Sicily, Sardinia, Puglia, Basilicata, Lazio and Lower Tuscany) to other regions of the Central Italy and even northern Italy, replacing common wheat. With the competition of wheat from other countries, however, the convenience to cultivation has been decreasing since the beginning of the 2000s and today we are moving towards the recovery of ancient varieties that, when properly cultivated, can represent the future of grain production.
As far as the genetic improvement of durum wheat is concerned, this has proceeded very late and more slowly than that of common wheat.
Only in the last decades of the twentieth century there was a lively revival of interest in the improvement of this species, resulting in the realization of several new varieties radically renewing the Italian varietal panorama.
Research on the genetic improvement of wheat has been driven by the need to create varieties with better characteristics for the areas of traditional cultivation of durum wheat (South and Islands), and from that of creating new varieties in order to extend the cultivation in central Italy -settentrionale.
The main aspects on which durum wheat was improved were the following:
– Resistance to lodging. The susceptibility to this adversity, preventing it from overtaking modest production thresholds, was the main factor responsible for the low yields of durum wheat, as well as one of the strongest obstacles to extending the cultivation north of its typical range, in soils generally greater fertility.
– Precocity. The late flowering and ripening has always constituted another very serious limit to the productivity of durum wheat in the past. In fact, the more the crucial phase of graveyard takes place in advanced season, the higher the drought and / or rusting hinder it.
– Resistance to cold. This field includes resistance to strong and prolonged winter temperature drops and spring frosts. This problem is prejudicial to the extension of the cultivation in central-northern Italy with winters much more rigid than the typical southern areas of cultivation of durum wheat.
– Disease resistance. The same adversities that affect the soft wheat can attack the hard. Indeed this is even more sensitive than that to the agents of sore feet and ergot.
– Qualitative improvement. The characteristics required for a good product level of durum wheat concern both the semolina yield during the grinding process and the pasta making process. The bianconatura (presence of caryopses that instead of having the completely vitreous endosperm have sectors with a floury consistency) is the cause of commodity depreciation of the product as its semolina yield, its color and the homogeneous color of the pasta are worsened.
With the genetic improvement of durum wheat, caryopses of high electrolytic weight and well colored semolina were also produced, with a high content of carotenoids and flavonoids, with a high content of proteins and gluten, good qualities of gluten, more suitable for the pasta making process.
The selection made has thus led to obtaining more productive varieties of low size but with other defects not included during the selection period.
These defects are related to the need to use the practice of chemical weeding because the lower size wheats have a lower competitiveness with weeds, to the need of chemical fertilization to ensure high yields, in the presence of a gluten that is passed from a strength W value of 10-50 of the ancient varieties to the 300-400 strength in modern grains. This factor, on which various scientific researches are being carried out, could be the cause of intolerances and celiac diseases.
Furthermore, with the selection of registered varieties there has been a drastic reduction in the biodiversity of the crops which, at one time, were represented by populations with greater general resistance to a series of pests and diseases and with a wider range of nutritional characteristics.
The future scenario seems to be that of the return to ancient grains and of the “evolutionary grain”, that is, the mixing of many different varieties of the same species. A concept that is as simple as it is concretely useful: it is in fact mixtures that serve to cope with climate change thanks to their ability to evolve over time and therefore, also, to better adapt to the evolutions of biocenoses and parasitic systems. A very useful model for future scenarios of agroecology.
So today we are faced with two concepts of cultivation that focus on two types of wheat; on the one hand the varieties of durum wheat, obtained with the genetic improvement in the second half of the last century that includes some varieties such as: Simeto, Duilio, Ciccio, Arcangelo, Creso, Colosseo, Iride, Rusticano, Grazia and Svevo; on the other hand, the recovery of ancient varieties, such as Sicilian grains and evolutionary mixtures that, when properly cultivated, can contribute to overcoming a series of ecological, nutritional and energetic issues that would otherwise be no longer solvable with intensive grains.
In the process of transformation, however, durum wheat, regardless of the variety, produces a grain from which semolina is obtained, a raw material for the preparation of pasta, consisting of fragments of endosperm more or less large, with a sharp edge, not mealy.
The grinding of durum wheat is therefore made with a different system from that adopted for soft wheat, being aimed at obtaining semolina, rather than flour, in addition to the bran and middling by-products. The most important qualitative datum for the oil industry is the grinding yield, ie the kg of semolina obtainable from 100 kg of grain.
This value depends on the weight per hectolitre, on the degree of whiteness and mainly on the ash content; in fact the law establishes for the semolina a maximum content of ashes of 0.85% and in order not to exceed this limit the grinder is sometimes forced to lower the grinding yield.
The minimum requirements for the acceptability of durum wheat are practically the same as those for bread-making wheat with the following additions: weight per hl: 76kg; Maximum percentage of black and white grains, even partially: 50%, of which common wheat: 4%. The tolerance relative to the% of whitening is 20%: this means that deductions are made only when the whitening is greater than this value up to the maximum admissibility limit.
The superior quality hards are obtained only in the typical regions of Southern Italy, thanks to the edaphic and climatic conditions that ensure the set of characteristics determining an excellent pasta making quality.
The properties of durum wheat proteins mean that the masses obtained by mixing the semolina with water are particularly suitable for the production of pasta. In the South of Italy for centuries the semolina of the Triticum durum, are re-milled to reduce their granulation and used for the production of typical breads; among these we remember the Bread of Altamura, the first product in the European Union belonging to the product category “Bakery and bakery products” to bear the DOP mark, the Bread of Matera, a product with a long tradition obtained with an ancient processing system, having the IGP brand, and Pane di Laterza, whose recipe is protected by the Collective Quality Mark.
The composition of the wheat kernels is represented by starch (about 70%), proteins (10-20%) and lipids (about 2%). Starch and proteins are the factors that most influence the nutritional and qualitative characteristics of the dough and derived products. A first classification of the wheat cariosside proteins made by Osborne divided them into four groups based on their relative solubility: albumins, globulins, gliadins and glutenins.
These last two are found exclusively in the endosperm where they have the physiological role of reserve proteins and constitute about 80% of the total proteins. Gluten is formed during processing, when the flour is mixed with water, from the union of these two proteins and has a very important function which is that of forming an elastic protein network capable of bonding together the hydrated starch granules and to retain the carbon dioxide bubbles that form during the dough fermentation; this makes it possible to leaven and to form a soft and elastic dough.
Regarding the nutritional characteristics 100 g of durum wheat contain: 312 kcal; furthermore, for every 100 g of this product, we have: Water 11.50 g, Carbohydrates available 62.50, g, Sugars 3.20 g, Proteins 13 g, Fat (Lipids) 2.90 g, Cholesterol 0, Total fiber 9.80 g, potassium 494 mg, iron 3.60 mg, calcium 30 mg, phosphorus 330 mg, magnesium 160 mg, zinc 2.90 mg, copper 0.40 mg, selenium 3.80 µg, vitamin B1 0.43 mg, Vitamin B2 0.15 mg, Vitamin B3 5.70 mg, Vitamin A 2 µg and Vitamin C 0 mg.
Preparation Mode –
Durum wheat is commonly used in the form of durum wheat flour, bread, pizzas, fresh homemade pastries and desserts, but also as sprouts; it is also used as pure cereal, in soups, soups, salads or tasty and nutritious first courses.
In addition to the widespread pasta and the other uses mentioned, many Mediterranean foods are based on durum wheat, among which the best known are couscous and bulgur, typical of the one of the culture of North Africa and the other of the Middle East and today also widespread beyond the respective areas of origin. Sicilian couscous, called cùscusu, has its roots in the Arab domination of Sicily in the IX-XII centuries. The Carloforte one derives instead from the influences with the nearby island of Tabarka.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of Italian Regions – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher – Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d ‘Italy, Edagricole, Bologna. – Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is assumed for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.