Last updated
Food grains at a market Dhaniyangal.jpg
Food grains at a market

A grain is a small, hard, dry seed, with or without an attached hull or fruit layer, harvested for human or animal consumption. [1] A grain crop is a grain-producing plant. The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals and legumes. The term specifically refers to seeds of plants of the grass family, such as wheat, corn, and rice; seeds of non-edible grass species are also often called "grains".


After being harvested, dry grains are more durable than other staple foods, such as starchy fruits (plantains, breadfruit, etc.) and tubers (sweet potatoes, cassava, and more). This durability has made grains well suited to industrial agriculture, since they can be mechanically harvested, transported by rail or ship, stored for long periods in silos, and milled for flour or pressed for oil. Thus, major global commodity markets exist for maize, rice, soybeans, wheat and other grains but not for tubers, vegetables, or other crops.

Grains and cereal

Grains and cereal are synonymous with caryopses, the fruits of the grass family. In agronomy and commerce, seeds or fruits from other plant families are called grains if they resemble caryopses. For example, amaranth is sold as "grain amaranth", and amaranth products may be described as "whole grains". The pre-Hispanic civilizations of the Andes had grain-based food systems but, at the higher elevations, none of the grains was a cereal. All three grains native to the Andes (kaniwa, kiwicha, and quinoa) are broad-leafed plants rather than grasses such as corn, rice, and wheat. [2]


Cereal grains

Cereal grain seeds clockwise from top-left: wheat, spelt, oat, barley. Dinreyes.jpg
Cereal grain seeds clockwise from top-left: wheat, spelt, oat, barley.

All cereal crops are members of the grass family (Poaceae). [3] Cereal grains contain a substantial amount of starch, [4] a carbohydrate that provides dietary energy.

Warm-season cereals

Cool-season cereals

Barley Gerstenkoerner.jpg
Rye grains Rye grains.JPG
Rye grains
Rice grains by the IRRI Rice grains (IRRI).jpg
Rice grains by the IRRI

Pseudocereal grains

Buckwheat Fagopyrum grechka.jpg

Starchy grains from broadleaf (dicot) plant families:


Lentil Lens culinaris seeds.jpg

Pulses or grain legumes, members of the pea family, have a higher protein content than most other plant foods, at around 20%, while soybeans have as much as 35%. As is the case with all other whole plant foods, pulses also contain carbohydrate and fat. Common pulses include:


Oilseed grains are grown primarily for the extraction of their edible oil. Vegetable oils provide dietary energy and some essential fatty acids. [5] They are also used as fuel and lubricants. [6]

Mustard family

Rapeseed Canola.jpg

Aster family

Sunflower seeds Sunflowers seeds.jpg
Sunflower seeds

Other families

Historical impact of grain agriculture

Because grains are small, hard and dry, they can be stored, measured, and transported more readily than can other kinds of food crops such as fresh fruits, roots and tubers. The development of grain agriculture allowed excess food to be produced and stored easily which could have led to the creation of the first permanent settlements and the division of society into classes. [7]

Occupational safety and health

Those who handle grain at grain facilities may encounter numerous occupational hazards and exposures. Risks include grain entrapment, where workers are submerged in the grain and unable to remove themselves; [8] explosions caused by fine particles of grain dust, [9] and falls.

See also

Related Research Articles

Bean Seed

A bean is the seed of one of several genera of the flowering plant family Fabaceae, which are used as vegetables for human or animal food. They can be cooked in many different ways, including boiling, frying, and baking, and are used in several traditional dishes throughout the world.

Cereal Grass of which the fruits are used as grain, or said fruits

A cereal is any grass cultivated (grown) for the edible components of its grain, composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain itself. Cereal grain crops are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop and are therefore staple crops. Edible grains from other plant families, such as buckwheat (Polygonaceae), quinoa (Amaranthaceae) and chia (Lamiaceae), are referred to as pseudocereals.

Porridge Food

Porridge is a food commonly eaten as a breakfast cereal dish, made by boiling ground, crushed or chopped starchy plants—typically grain—in water or milk. It is often cooked or served with added flavorings such as sugar, honey, (dried) fruit or syrup to make a sweet cereal, or it can be mixed with spices, meat or vegetables to make a savoury dish. It is usually served hot in a bowl, depending on its consistency. Oat porridge, or oatmeal, is one of the most common types of porridge. Gruel is a thinner version of porridge.

Sprouting practice of germinating seeds to be eaten raw or cooked

Sprouting is the natural process by which seeds or spores germinate and put out shoots, and already established plants produce new leaves or buds or other newly developing parts experience further growth.

Legume Plant in the family Fabaceae

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae, or the fruit or seed of such a plant. The seed is also called a pulse. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for human consumption, for livestock forage and silage, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind. Legumes produce a botanically unique type of fruit – a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces on two sides.

Whole grain

A whole grain, also called a wholegrain, is a grain of any cereal and pseudocereal that contains the endosperm, germ, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm.

<i>Chenopodium pallidicaule</i> Species of plant

Chenopodium pallidicaule, known as cañihua, canihua or cañahua and also kaniwa, is a species of goosefoot, similar in character and uses to the closely related quinoa(Chenopodium quinoa).

Five Grains group of five farmed crops, important in ancient China, whose cultivation was regarded as a sacred boon from a mythological or supernatural source

The Five Grains or Cereals are a grouping of five farmed crops that were all important in ancient China. Sometimes the crops themselves were regarded as sacred; other times, their cultivation was regarded as a sacred boon from a mythological or supernatural source. More generally, wǔgǔ can be employed in Chinese as a synecdoche referring to all grains or staple crops of which the end produce is of a granular nature. The identity of the five grains has varied over time, with different authors identifying different grains or even categories of grains.

Amaranth grain Edible grain of the Amaranth genus

Species belonging to the genus Amaranthus have been cultivated for their grains for 8,000 years. Amaranth plants are classified as pseudocereals that are grown for their edible starchy seeds, but they are not in the same botanical family as true cereals, such as wheat and rice. Amaranth species that are still used as a grain are Amaranthus caudatus L., Amaranthus cruentus L., and Amaranthus hypochondriacus L. The yield of grain amaranth is comparable to rice or maize.

Crop Plant or animal product which can be grown and harvested

A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crop may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture or aquaculture. A crop may include macroscopic fungus, or alga (algeaculture).

The Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) funds participatory, collaborative research on agroecological intensification (AEI). Funded projects typically link international, national, and local organizations with communities of smallholder farmers, researchers, development professionals, and other parties. Projects work together as part of a Community of Practice to generate technical and social innovations to improve nutrition, livelihoods, and productivity for farming communities in Africa and South America. Large-scale impact is realized when new ideas, technologies, or processes are adapted, when insights from research catalyze change in policy and practice, and when innovation inspires further success. The program is under the direction of Rebecca J. Nelson of Cornell University and Jane Maland Cady of the McKnight Foundation.

Arrowhead Mills is a brand of organic baking mixes, grains, cereals, and nut butters.

Agriculture in Chad

In 2006 approximately 80% of Chad's labor force was employed in the agricultural sector. This sector of the economy accounted for almost half of the GDP. With the exception of cotton production, some small-scale sugar cane production, and a portion of the peanut crop, Chad's agriculture consisted of subsistence food production. The types of crops that were grown and the locations of herds were determined by considerable variations in Chad's climate.

There are many systems of classification of crops for example commercial, taxonomical and agricultural among the agriculture classification of corrupt crops is most widely accepted because it is commonly it covers the taxonomical and commercial and other aspects.

Lists of foods Wikipedia list article

This is a categorically-organized list of foods. Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is produced either by Plants or Animals, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.

Staple food food that is eaten routinely and considered a dominant portion of a standard diet

A staple food, food staple, or simply a staple, is a food that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet for a given people, supplying a large fraction of energy needs and generally forming a significant proportion of the intake of other nutrients as well. A staple food of a specific society may be eaten as often as every day or every meal, and most people live on a diet based on just a small number of food staples. Specific staples vary from place to place, but typically are inexpensive or readily available foods that supply one or more of the macronutrients needed for survival and health: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Typical examples include tubers and roots, grains, legumes, and seeds. Among them, cereals, legumes, tubers and roots account for about 90% of the world's food calories intake.


  1. Babcock, P. G., ed. 1976. Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Co.
  2. "Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation". Office of International Affairs, National Academies of the. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press. 1989. p. 24.
  3. Vaughan, J. G., C. Geissler, B. Nicholson, E. Dowle, and E. Rice. 1997. The New Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press.
  4. Serna-Saldivar, S.O. (2012). Cereal Grains: Laboratory Reference and Procedures Manual. Food Preservation Technology. Taylor & Francis. p. 58. ISBN   978-1-4398-5565-2.
  5. Lean, M.E.J. (2006). Fox and Cameron's Food Science, Nutrition & Health, 7th Edition. CRC Press. p. 49. ISBN   978-1-4441-1337-2.
  6. Salunkhe, D. K. (1992-02-29). World Oilseeds. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN   9780442001124.
  7. Wessel, T. 1984. "The Agricultural Foundations of Civilization". Journal of Agriculture and Human Values 1:9–12
  8. "Frequently Asked Questions About Flowing Grain Entrapment, Grain Rescue and Strategies, and Grain Entrapment Prevention Measures" (PDF). Agricultural Safety and Health Program, Purdue University. April 2011. p. 1. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  9. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions". Safety and Health Information Bulletin. United States Department of Labor . Retrieved 29 October 2013.