View Full Version : What is the most grown and consumed grain in the world?

05-29-2002, 05:45 PM
Ok, today is the day of the million dumb questions. :rolleyes:

Which is the most produced and consumed grain in the world? Half of us says wheat, the other half says rice, and the answer to the trivia question says wheat. However, the rice contigent will not rest until they have proof.
Again, google is not being very helpful right now.
Thanks in advance...

05-29-2002, 06:01 PM
Shoot, I was gonna say corn.

In addition to all the normal corn-based products I can think of (corn on the cob, creamed corn, natchos) you've got corn oil (there's no wheat oil or rice oil) corn syrup (no wheat syrup or rice syrup) corn liquor (again, no wheat liquor, but there is sake). And corn is the basis for ethanol as well.

I'm sure there's more, and if you're playing an early edition of Trivial Pursuit, that game was notorious for inaccuracies.

easy e
05-29-2002, 06:02 PM
I'm pretty sure that it's rice, but that's just a WAG.

easy e
05-29-2002, 06:03 PM
Err, just thought of this--do you mean most acreage covered, most tons produced, or some other measurement of "most"?

Great Dave
05-29-2002, 06:04 PM
I'd guess rice.

05-29-2002, 06:08 PM
According to the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (http://www.fas.usda.gov/wap/circular/2002/02-05/grains.pdf):

Annual world rice production is about 400 million metric tons.
Annual world wheat production is nearly 600 million metric tons.
Annual world corn production is nearly 600 million metric tons (over 600, this year), but more wheat is consumed by humans than corn.

05-29-2002, 06:33 PM
Well, it's not trivial pursuit. Every Tuesday night a coworker goes to an "English" pub and there is a contest of 20 questions. He's contesting a few. I pretty much gave the question the verbatim. However, I found a rice webpage that says rice is second to wheat, which is what Nametag discovered. Thanks for all the help.

05-29-2002, 07:40 PM
What kind of grain do they use to make beer? I think that would be a factor...

05-29-2002, 07:54 PM
According to Science Magazine:Approximately one third of the world's population relies on rice for a significant portion of their food. About 11% of the world's arable land is used for growing rice, and 29% of total cereal production in 2000 was due to rice.


05-29-2002, 08:32 PM
Science Magazine (or rather, the authors of the unnamed article in Science) must be counting unmilled rice production (about 585 million metric tons/year). Rice must be milled to remove its hull; wheat's hull pops off at harvesting, and corn iproduction is estimated after removal from the cob, so there is no "pre-anything" tonnage.

And RJ, barley is the major source grain of beer, and it contributes less than 10% of all grain production.

05-29-2002, 10:05 PM
Science Magazine, Vol 296, 5 April 2002, the pull out section from the article on the rough draft of the Rice Genome. The list of contributors is a page long.

"To the people, food is heaven." Ancient Chinese Proverb

05-29-2002, 10:10 PM
... still waiting for the grain of truth in this thread ...


05-30-2002, 02:21 AM
From a recent thread, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=107160 Among the grains, maize was #1 in 2001.

maize 604 million tonnes
rice 585 million tonnes
wheat 576 million tonnes

In five of the last 11 years, maize has been #1. In 1995, 1999, and 2000, rice was #1. In 1992, 1993, and 1997 wheat was #1.


click here (http://apps.fao.org/page/collections?subset=agriculture) then on the first link in the table, which is labeled "crops primary").

China Guy
05-30-2002, 06:41 AM
Originally posted by rjung
What kind of grain do they use to make beer? I think that would be a factor... Short answer is that beer is made from pretty much any maltable grain. A purist would say if it's not 100% barley malt, then it's not beer. Budweiser would disagree. The US popularized making beer with a combination of malted barley and malted rice because at lot of rice was grown in the US.

Terminus Est
05-30-2002, 11:20 AM
According to the FAO (http://apps1.fao.org/servlet/XteServlet.jrun?Areas=862&Items=%3E1717&Elements=31&Elements=41&Elements=51&Years=2001&Format=Table&Xaxis=Elements&Yaxis=Items&Aggregate=&Calculate=&Domain=SUA&ItemTypes=Production.Crops.Primary&Language=&UserName=), total area harvested to wheat in 2001 was 213,816,865 hectares (Ha) while area for rice in the same year was 213,816,865 Ha and maize was 137,596,759 Ha. In terms of actual production, maize leads the pack with 609,181,620 metric tonnes (Mt), followed by rice at 592,831,326 Mt then wheat at 582,691,612 Mt.

Terminus Est
05-30-2002, 11:24 AM
Oops. Now I see that bibliophage said pretty much the same thing, and linked to the same place. Oh, well.