Grains [зерна; zerna]. The most important group of cultivated plants whose seeds are used as a staple of the human diet, animal feed, and raw material in many industries. The grains are divided into cereals and legumes. Most cereals, including wheat, rye, barley, rice, oats, and corn, belong to the botanical family Gramineae; buckwheat is a member of the family Polygonaceae.
Grain crops have a long history in Ukraine. Evidence suggests that as early as the Neolithic period, in the 5th to 4th centuries BC, wheat, barley, and millet were grown along the Buh River and the Dnister River. In 1913 (within the present boundaries of Ukraine) 24,696,000 ha were devoted to growing grain, or 88 percent of the total cultivated land area in Ukraine. In 1983 the figure was 15,783,000 ha or 48 percent of the area under cultivation in Ukraine. In 1913 the gross grain harvest in Ukraine was 23,157,000 t; in 1980, 38,100,000 t. In 1980 Ukraine accounted for 20 percent of the USSR’s gross grain harvest. The average yield of grain crops in Ukraine was 9.4 centners per ha in 1913 and 23.1 centners per ha in 1980. The most important grain crop in Ukraine is winter wheat, followed by spring barley, corn, and peas (see Grain production).
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]