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Threshing in Gumuara (Ethiopia) Threshing in Gumuara.jpg
Threshing in Gumuara (Ethiopia)
An animal-powered thresher Batteuse 1881.jpg
An animal-powered thresher

Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of grain (or other crop) from the straw to which it is attached. It is the step in grain preparation after reaping. Threshing does not remove the bran from the grain. [1]


Threshing may be done by beating the grain using a flail on a threshing floor. Another traditional method of threshing is to make donkeys or oxen walk in circles on the grain on a hard surface. A modern version of this in some areas is to spread the grain on the surface of a country road so the grain may be threshed by the wheels of passing vehicles. [2]

Hand threshing was laborious, with a bushel of wheat taking about an hour. [3] In the late 18th century, before threshing was mechanized, [4] about one-quarter of agricultural labor was devoted to it. [5]

Industrialization of threshing began in 1786 with the invention of the threshing machine by Scotsman Andrew Meikle. Today, in developed areas, it is now mostly done by machine, usually by a combine harvester, which harvests, threshes, and winnows the grain while it is still in the field. [6] [7]

The cereal may be stored in a barn or silos.

A threshing bee was traditionally a bee in which local people gathered together to pitch in and get the season's threshing done. Such bees were sometimes festivals or events within larger harvest festivals. Today the original purpose is largely obsolete, but the festival tradition lives on in some modern examples that commemorate the past and include flea markets, hog wrestling, and dances. [8] [9] [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Cereal Grass of which the fruits are used as grain, or said fruits

A cereal is any grass cultivated (grown) for the edible components of its grain, composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain itself. Cereal grain crops are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop and are therefore staple crops. Edible grains from other plant families, such as buckwheat (Polygonaceae), quinoa (Amaranthaceae) and chia (Lamiaceae), are referred to as pseudocereals.

Threshing machine

A threshing machine or a thresher is a piece of farm equipment that threshes grain, that is, it removes the seeds from the stalks and husks. It does so by beating the plant to make the seeds fall out.

Winnowing Method of separating grain from chaff

Winnowing is an agricultural method developed by ancient cultures for separating grain from chaff. It can also be used to remove pests from stored grain. Winnowing usually follows threshing in grain preparation.

Combine harvester

The modern combine harvester, or simply combine, is a versatile machine designed to efficiently harvest a variety of grain crops. The name derives from its combining four separate harvesting operations—reaping, threshing, gathering and winnowing—into a single process. Among the crops harvested with a combine are wheat, rice, oats, rye, barley, corn (maize), sorghum, soybeans, flax (linseed), sunflowers and canola. The separated straw, left lying on the field, comprises the stems and any remaining leaves of the crop with limited nutrients left in it: the straw is then either chopped, spread on the field and ploughed back in or baled for bedding and limited-feed for livestock.

Chaff Protective casings of the seeds of cereal grain

Chaff is the dry, scaly protective casing of the seeds of cereal grains, or similar fine, dry, scaly plant material such as scaly parts of flowers, or finely chopped straw. Chaff is indigestible by humans, but livestock can eat it and in agriculture it is used as livestock fodder, or is a waste material ploughed into the soil or burned.

Reaper Harvesting machine

A reaper is a farm implement or person that reaps crops at harvest when they are ripe. Usually the crop involved is a cereal grass. The first documented reaping machines were Gallic reaper that was used in modern-day France during Roman times. The Gallic reaper involved a comb which collected the heads, with an operator knocking the grain into a box for later threshing.

Harvest Process of gathering mature crops from the fields

Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper. On smaller farms with minimal mechanization, harvesting is the most labor-intensive activity of the growing season. On large mechanized farms, harvesting utilizes the most expensive and sophisticated farm machinery, such as the combine harvester. Process automation has increased the efficiency of both the seeding and harvesting processes. Specialized harvesting equipment utilizing conveyor belts to mimic gentle gripping and mass transport replaces the manual task of removing each seedling by hand. The term "harvesting" in general usage may include immediate postharvest handling, including cleaning, sorting, packing, and cooling.


The reaper-binder, or binder, is a farm implement that improved upon the simple reaper. The binder was invented in 1872 by Charles Baxter Withington, a jeweler from Janesville, Wisconsin. In addition to cutting the small-grain crop, a binder also 'binds' the stems into bundles or sheaves. These sheaves are usually then 'shocked' into A-shaped conical stooks, resembling small tipis, to allow the grain to dry for several days before being picked up and threshed.


A swather, or windrower, is a farm implement that cuts hay or small grain crops and forms them into a windrow. "Swather" is predominantly the North American term for these machines. In Australia and other parts of the world, they are called "windrowers". They aid harvesting by speeding up the process of drying the crop down to a moisture content suitable for harvesting and storage.

Matthew 3:12

Matthew 3:12 is the twelfth verse of the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verse occurs in the section relating the preachings of John the Baptist. In this he uses the imagery of harvesting wheat to describe God's judgement.

Mechanised agriculture

Mechanised agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanise the work of agriculture, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many farm jobs formerly carried out by manual labour or by working animals such as oxen, horses and mules.

Flail Agricultural tool used for threshing

A flail is an agricultural tool used for threshing, the process of separating grains from their husks.

Threshing floor

Threshing (thrashing) was originally "...'to tramp or stamp heavily with the feet'..." and was later applied to the act of separating out grain by the feet of people or oxen and still later with the use of a flail. A threshing floor is of two main types: 1) a specially flattened outdoor surface, usually circular and paved, or 2) inside a building with a smooth floor of earth, stone or wood where a farmer would thresh the grain harvest and then winnow it. Animal and steam powered threshing machines from the nineteenth century onward made threshing floors obsolete. The outdoor threshing floor was either owned by the entire village or by a single family, and it was usually located outside the village in a place exposed to the wind.

Threshing board

A threshing board is an obsolete agricultural implement used to separate cereals from their straw; that is, to thresh. It is a thick board, made with a variety of slats, with a shape between rectangular and trapezoidal, with the frontal part somewhat narrower and curved upward and whose bottom is covered with lithic flakes or razor-like metal blades.

Agricultural machinery Machinery used in farming or other agriculture

Agricultural machinery is machinery used in farming or other agriculture. There are many types of such equipment, from hand tools and power tools to tractors and the countless kinds of farm implements that they tow or operate. Diverse arrays of equipment are used in both organic and nonorganic farming. Especially since the advent of mechanised agriculture, agricultural machinery is an indispensable part of how the world is fed.

Post-harvest losses (grains) description of ways in which grain losses can occur and ways of addressing problems

Grains may be lost in the pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest stages. Pre-harvest losses occur before the process of harvesting begins, and may be due to insects, weeds, and rusts. Harvest losses occur between the beginning and completion of harvesting, and are primarily caused by losses due to shattering. Post-harvest losses occur between harvest and the moment of human consumption. They include on-farm losses, such as when grain is threshed, winnowed, and dried, as well as losses along the chain during transportation, storage, and processing. Important in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, are on-farm losses during storage, when the grain is being stored for auto-consumption or while the farmer awaits a selling opportunity or a rise in prices.

Threshing stone

A threshing stone is a roller-like tool used for the threshing of wheat. Similar to the use of threshing boards, the stone was pulled by horses over a circular pile of harvested wheat on a hardened dirt surface, and the rolling stone knocked the grain from the head of wheat. The straw was removed from the pile and the remaining grain and chaff was collected. By a process called winnowing, the grain was tossed into the air to allow the chaff and dirt to be blown away, leaving only the grain.

Sheaf (agriculture)

A sheaf (/ʃiːf/) is a bunch of cereal-crop stems bound together after reaping, traditionally by sickle, later by scythe or, after its introduction in 1872, by mechanical reaper-binder

Stripper was a type of harvesting machine common in Australia in the late 19th and early 20th century. John Ridley is now accepted as its inventor, though John Wrathall Bull argued strongly for the credit.


  1. "threshing".
  2. M. Partridge, Farm Tools through the Ages (1973)
  3. Atack, Jeremy; Passell, Peter (1994). A New Economic View of American History. New York: W.W. Norton and Co. pp.  282–3. ISBN   0-393-96315-2.
  4. "The Bob & Diane Miller Collection - Wheat Threshing (1993)". Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  5. Clark, Gregory (2007). A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton University Press. p.  286. ISBN   978-0-691-12135-2.
  6. "Andrew Meikle (1719-1811) engineer and inventor of the threshing machine, the predecessor of the combine harvester". Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  7. "The Threshing Machine -- Separation of Grain from Stalks and Husks".
  8. "home".
  10. "Welcome to the Donnelly Threshing Bee".