Combine season has now begun...
Perry Court are harvesting wheat, barley and oats this year
Yes, it is noisy and dusty, and no you won’t be getting anywhere in a hurry for the next few weeks if you live in the countryside, but boy are combines clever! This week is all about the combine harvester, what it does, and how it takes the golden stuff and makes bread!
What is a combine harvester?
The combine, short for combine harvester, is an essential and complex machine designed for efficient harvesting of mass quantities of grain. Modern combines can cut a swath through a field more than 40 feet wide. The name comes from combining three essential harvest functions – reaping, threshing and winnowing. Corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, rye, barley, sorghum, flax, sunflowers and canola can all be harvested with a head designed for that particular grain.
Yes, they really are! We have a standard combine, but some farms in Kent have apps which allow farmers to remotely monitor combine performance. This can be self driving, monitoring straight lines, or checking the quality as it cuts. Our crop is relatively small and not worth the investment.
Let’s talk about harvesting wheat?
Wheat needs a special rotator on the combine, which is typically twice as wide as a grass header. The header cuts and thrashes the wheat kernels from the stalk and the grain goes into the storage bin, which then gets emptied into the tractor trailer which relays it back to the farm. It then goes straight into the grain store (somewhere we used to hide our dad’s shoes in when we were kids) until it is sold. During this time, temperature and moisture is crucial and it is usually up to my brother Tom to keep an eye on the harvests wellbeing.
What happens next?
The wheat kernels enter a factory where it is crushed and cleaned. It then gets pushed through a screen and the larger parts are put aside and the finer particles become flour. You can try this at home, by crushing it with a pestle and mortar, a great summer holidays activity!
Perry Court are harvesting wheat, barley and oats this year, and whilst some fields are far from ready, we plan to do our core harvesting in the next couple of weeks.