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Wheat Harvest by Hand

August 31, 2012 - GrowOrganic
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If you grow vegetables, you can also grow grain in your home garden. You don’t need to have acreage as far as the eye can see. Our video on planting grain shows you how to prepare the soil and plant cereal grain seeds in a small area. Tricia demos how to harvest the grain in our latest video. Growing grain is different from being a vegetable gardener when the harvest comes. Here are quick tips on how to harvest, thresh, winnow and store your grain crop. Harvesting grain The color of the grain…
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Video Transcript
Hi I'm Tricia an organic gardener here with Reed Hamilton from Grass Valley grains an organic farm and mill dedicated to providing wholesome and diverse grains to our local community. Thank you for having us out here today what's on your agenda for today. Today I plan to harvest as much hard red wheat as I can manage with my combine as much as I can haul and get that on home. And where are you gonna deliver it? It's gonna go to my home where I have my mill and storage for all the grain. Ok great, well we really appreciate you letting us come out here to use your field to demonstrate how to thresh rye on a smaller scale.

Small grains go through three stages of ripeness; the milk stage where the grains fill with a milky liquid that spills out when the grain is pinched the stocks will start turning from green to yellow, then there's the dough stage the grain is harder but still easy to dent with your fingernail, then there is the mature stage the grain cannot be dented with your fingernail the whole plant will be golden brown. Don't wait too long though or else birds and other critters could get your grain many farmers recommend harvesting in the late dough stage then they allow the grain to dry which makes for the best quality.

For plots of about one hundred and fifty square feet or less people use a grass shear just cut the stocks about a foot below the heads the grass sickle is another great option for small plots. To harvest with a hand sickle grip the grain with one hand and pull the sickle through with the other hand another great option for a large grain field is an Austrian scythe just put your feet apart, knees bent, rotate your body and scythe it. Keep the blade low and level with the ground the wheat is cut a long narrow strip with a sweeping motion starting with the blade slightly behind you on your dominant side push with your dominant hand and pull with the other rotate your arms and upper body as you sweep through the grain only use the first one third of the blade. Harvesting grain with a scythe is a great task to do with a partner one can scythe and one can wrap up the stalks.

Now it's time to gather up the stalks and tie them into sheaves gather the stalks into a sheave that is comfortable to holding your hand make sure all of the grain heads are pointing in the same direction and bind them with twine now were going to make a teepee out of sheaves and this is called a shock. Squished together or intermingle your heads so that your teepee stands upright and then just drape a little cheese cloth hat over your shocks to keep the birds out of your seeds while there drying and then just let your shock dry for about seven to ten days.

Once your grain is dry there's several ways to thresh, threshing is separating the wheat berries from the chaff banging the seed heads against the side of a trash can or a bucket works really well another method is to step on the grain all of these methods require a little bit of muscle power but that's because there's not that many automated options for small scale threshing. Beating the heads with the traditional flail or a plastic baseball bat works too once you've finished threshing its time to winnow, winnowing is separating the chaff from the wheat berry and all you'll need is an electric fan and two buckets. Pour small amounts in front of the fan to blow away the chaff almost pure wheat will drop into the lower bucket look through the wheat for rocks and other heavy debris that can damage your mill when you go to grind the grain.

Plant your grains, harvest, thresh, winnow and grow organic for life!

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Categories: Organic Seeds, Organic Bulk Seeds, Organic Cereal Seed, Bulk Seeds, Wheat Seed, Barley Seed, Oat Seed, Rye Seed, Cover Crop, Cereal Seeds, Pruning & Cutting Tools, Garden Shears, Harvest Knife, Garden Machete, Hand Sickle, Scythe, Homesteading Books


Erich Says:
Sep 8th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

This is a wonderful introduction. I would like to grow my own oats but at first glance it appears it would take a lot of space to end up with relatively few oats. Will need to keep learning to confirm whether that is the case. Thanks for all the great information!

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Sep 10th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Erich, Grain can be a very satisfying crop. Glad to have you here!

Danielle Says:
Nov 29th, 2013 at 7:04 am

My husband is interested in growing wheat and harvesting by hand and has asked for a scythe for Christmas.  Can you recommend an “entry level” scythe for a left-hander?  And do you suggest a cradle to accompany it?  I just don’t know where to start, what to choose, and how much to spend?

Rosa Says:
Jun 12th, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Thanks for the article! I’m almost ready to harvest my White Sonora wheat, it’s quite a small crop but I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before taking them out.

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