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When the crops are grown well and matured, they are ready for harvesting. Harvesting the crop is an important part of crop production.
Cutting and gathering matured crops are called harvesting.
The harvesting season varies according to the type of crops (Rabi or Kharif) under cultivation. The harvesting method also varies from place to place, person to person, and crop to crop. Methods used for harvesting:
Manual harvesting
Most commonly used method of harvest in India. Few crops are harvested without using any tools.
Tea and coffee are plucked with bare hands. Groundnut crop is harvested by uprooting with hand if the soil moisture is adequate for hand pulling. The same can be used in green gram, black gram and horse gram.
Saffron and vanilla are still plucked only by hands and are labour intensive!
Mechanical method
Harvesting is generally done by employing labours with instruments like sickle. It is a laborious and time-consuming one, which is suitable for small-sized farms.
Paddy, maize, barley, and wheat are harvested using a sickle.
Manual harvesting
Machine harvesting
Used in large-sized agriculture fields.
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The term harvesting includes post-harvesting practices like threshing and winnowing.
The process of separation of seeds from chaffs or pods is called, threshing.
Heaps of harvested crop is put on the threshing floor. A bundle is taken from the heap and threshed (or beaten up) using logs of wood. Due to the force applied, the grains get separated from the chaff or pod. Sometimes instead of beating using logs, cattle are allowed to walk over. Nowadays, a thrasher, a mechanical instrument, is used for thrashing.
A combine is a machine which does both threshing and harvesting.
A thresher:
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A combine:
After threshing, the grains are separated from the chaffs.
Winnowing is the process of separation of the grains.
After threshing, seeds are collected. Seeds are covered here with chaffs or pods, which needs to be separated to make the seed/grain ready for cooking. In winnowing process, seeds are sprayed in the air or blown over the seeds to remove the husk.
Seeds/grains are heavier falling straight to the ground while husks are blown away. Winnowing can be done manually (hand winnowing) or by the use of machines.
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Hand winnowing
Machine winnowing
Various factors need to be considered before harvesting crops. Crops need to be closely examined to ensure harvesting is not premature. Premature harvesting causes shedding of seeds and loss of crops
If crops are over-ripened, they lose value in the market and, in certain cases, become inconsumable.
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