Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a crop plant that is cultivated from September to December in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter wheat sprouts during the winter. Winter wheat needs a few weeks of cold before being able to flower. It is ready to harvest mid January. Due to the timing of the plant's growth and maturation, winter wheat is valued as a cold crop that can be planted right after the harvest in the fall.
Hard winter wheats have a higher gluten protein content than other wheats. They are used to make flour for yeastbreads, or are blended with soft spring wheats to make the all-purpose flour used in a wide variety of baked products. Soft wheat is used for specialty or cake flour. Durum, the hardest wheat, is primarily used for making pasta. Almost all durum wheat grown in North America is spring-planted.