Grain Facts



  • When grain is ripe it is cut from its stalks. This is called reaping.
  • After reaping the grain must be separated from the stalks and chaff (waste). This is called threshing.
  • After threshing the grain must be cleaned and separated from the husks. This is called winnowing.
  • In some places grain is still reaped in the ancient way with a long curved blade called a sickle.
  • In most developed countries wheat and other cereals are usually harvested with a combine harvester.
  • A combine harvester is a machine that reaps the grain, threshes it, cleans it and then pours it into bags or reservoirs.
  • The first horse-drawn combine was used in Michigan in 1836, but modern self-propelled harvesters only came into use in the 1940s.
  • If the grain is damp it must be dried immediately after harvesting so it does not rot. This is always true of rice.
  • If the grain is too damp to harvest, a machine called a windrower may cut the stalks and lay them in rows to dry in the wind. They will then be threshed and cleaned.
  • A successful harvest is traditionally celebrated with a harvest festival. The cailleac or last sheaf of corn is said to be the spirit of the field. It is made into a harvest doll, drenched with water and saved for the spring planting.