Thursday, October 21, 2010

Separating the wheat from the chaff...

Information compiled and written by Miles Martin

Wheat was introduced in north Texas by settlers in 1833. However, before the 1850s, the remoteness of farmers from large markets limited the wheat produced in Texas. Texas is said to have only produced 42,000 bushels of wheat in 1850. In 1858 Texas produce 2 million bushels of wheat due to a rapid increase of immigrants. Due to the low maintenance of growing, high crop yields, and the ease of cultivation, wheat quickly became a popular crop in north Texas.

The first step in harvest was to reap the wheat using a scythe. After the wheat had been cut, the grain must be removed from the stem of the plant. This was done by beating the grain heads on the ground and or beating them with a flail. This was called threshing. The wheat was then separated from the remaining chaff (straw-like stems and debris) through a process called winnowing. Winnowing entailed tossing the wheat and chaff into the air, and catching the wheat seeds while letting the chaff blow away and drop to the ground.

Did you know? On average, one bushel of wheat contains approximately one million kernels and weighs 60 pounds.

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