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.