Harvest is one of the most important times of the year. Everything that we do leads up to this moment. A farmer plows, plants and nurtures his crop with harvest in mind. Harvest is where we learn about our yields, what we did right and what we did wrong, and then how we can continue to produce superior crops.
Typically, harvest begins in August and can last until November. For Silver Reef Organic Farms, our 2014 fall harvest began with winter wheat. Winter wheat is a cereal grain crop that is planted in late fall the previous year and then harvested in early fall the following year. The wheat seed will germinate after it is planted in fall and continue to grow into young plants until frost hits. Once frost hits, the small wheat plants will remain in a vegetative, dormant state throughout the winter until spring. When temperatures increase in the spring, the warmth will reawaken the plants and trigger them to continue their growth into mature wheat plant. The grain will grow and develop within a wheat head on each straw of wheat. The grain is what will be harvested in fall.
A wheat plant will be ready to harvest when the grain within the wheat head has reached maturity. A combine will be used to cut and thresh the wheat. Threshing is a mechanical process where the wheat grain is loosened from the wheat head and other parts of the plant. At right, is a picture of our wheat with grain still attached to the wheat head.
After threshing, the grain will be stored in a hopper on top of the combine. The wheat straw and other debris will exit the combine from the back. When the combine hopper is full, the grain will be emptied from the combine into a grain trailer. When the trailer is full, it is ready for transport! Most of Silver Reef Organic Farms’ organic wheat will be sent to a mill where it will turned into organic flour.
Wheat straw that remains after threshing can be bailed into straw bales and used for cattle feed.