Threshing is the process used to separate the chaff, the protective covering around the grain, and the kernel of grain used for food, from a plant’s stalk. Farmers used flails to remove the chaff and grain from the stalk and to crack open the chaff.
Threshing, also spelled thrashing, is the process used to separate the chaff, the protective covering around the grain, and the kernel of grain we use for food, from a plant’s stalk. During the nineteenth century, farmers used a variety of methods to remove the chaff and grain from the stalk and to crack open the chaff. Some used flails, others used hand-powered machines such as this, and still others used animal-powered machines. Today, farmers thresh primarily with gasoline-powered machines.
In order to harvest grain and process it to be used for food, farmers must cut the grain from the field and separate the grain from the plant. Cutting the grain in the field is known has harvesting or reaping. Separating the grain from the plant is known as threshing. Harvesting and threshing were two separate jobs, but machines called “combines” save farmers time by both cutting and threshing in one step.
This combine was patented in 1879. Notice the machine was powered by steam, but the farmer still relied on horses to move the machine through the fields.
Threshing (also known as thrashing), refers to the method of separating grain from its outer hull, called chaff. Until the mid-nineteenth century, the farmer usually threshed by hand, swinging a flail against the grain on the barn floor to open the grain. The introduction of steam and animal-powered machinery in the mid to late nineteenth century, brought convenience to the process.