Harvesting Grain

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by rwood, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    Hello again, Raphael from Australia here.

    Im not sure which forum to post this question and Ive searched the archives but no luck, so here it is.

    If I was planning (dreaming) of growing 4 hectares (4 x 1 hectare paddocks) with a rotaion of crops each year for the purpose of stock and human feed, how would I harvest grains like wheat/ots/rye etc.

    I know there are huge $1million dollar header machines around that could do each paddock in 5 minutes, but hey, dont have the money.

    I also know how to swing a scythe, but Im not that keen.

    In between those extremes, are there attachments I can get for a tractor that will do the job? I am also not sure of the process for..say...wheat...heading versus mowing. I would like to use the stalks of the wheat for my straw (mulch etc) if possible.

    My plan is to rotate wheat (+Straw), Lucerne (+ Hay), beans (+forage) and Corn (+ animal feed). My question really revolves around harvesting the cereals, as lucerne will be baled and beans are more of a green manure. I can pick corn...and let the cows and pigs do the rest.

    Thanks in advance.
    Raphael (Raf)
     
  2. daycab

    daycab Well-Known Member

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    Hi
    Prior to the huge self propelled combines of today, small pull behind combines were used. They were either powered by a small engine or a tractor PTO. John Deere and Allis Chalmers among others made them.


    Last spring I bought a field ready Allis Chalmers All Crop 60 pull behind combine for $200. It is from the early 1950's, but is in good condition. It was too wide to pull home and trcking fees approached $600.


    This machine will harvest seed from clover to beans (Hence the All Crop name!) and leave the straw on the field to be raked and baled.It is small enough to be pulled by my compact 33 hp tractor.


    Try this site and do a search on All Crop or pull behind combine.http://www.ytmag.com/


    Good Luck!
     

  3. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

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    I also know how to swing a scythe, but Im not that keen.

    In between those extremes, are there attachments I can get for a tractor that will do the job? I am also not sure of the process for..say...wheat...heading versus mowing. I would like to use the stalks of the wheat for my straw (mulch etc) if possible.

    My plan is to rotate wheat (+Straw), Lucerne (+ Hay), beans (+forage) and Corn (+ animal feed). My question really revolves around harvesting the cereals, as lucerne will be baled and beans are more of a green manure. I can pick corn...and let the cows and pigs do the rest.

    Thanks in advance.
    Raphael (Raf)[/QUOTE]

    I think you are going to have a hard time finding small scale machinery to harvest small grains. Even a pull type combine is not what I would call a Small machine. It would be hard to justify buying one and doing all the inevitable fixing up it would require for one acre of grain a year.

    I know that they make small walk behind combines, mostly they are used at agricultural universities and research stations on small research plots. They cost a fortune and are hard to find but if you have a fortune to spend and can find one that might be a possibility. I have harvested grain with a scythe, if you rig up a cradle with a bendy twig and some twine (I used 9 guage wire instead) you can dump neat piles of grain for someone else to tie into sheaves. This is pretty much backbreaking but it might still be worth it if you want the wheat. Do you need a whole acre of wheat? If you planted oats and just cut it when it is in soft dough you can feed it as oat hay and they still get the benefit of the grain in the heads. They will eat a lot of the straw and pull a lot down and sort of self bed themselves. If you just grew enough wheat for you needs and then grew oats on the rest for oat hay you could just bale that up too. Much less work.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    1 hectare is less than half an acre. A walk behind mower using a cutter bar will drop it flat to further dry, or you and bundle it and stand it up. Hand threshing is pretty tedious and your yeild is about 1 tonne of grain or around $150 on a good year. Why not grow something of value and buy grain?
     
  5. paden

    paden Well-Known Member

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    You might check with your neighbors as well. Someone may be willing to spend an hour or two combining it for a minimal fee.
     
  6. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Ooops!! Did that backwards 1 hectare is 2.4 acres! Still a lot fo work or money for the gain, but it is more respectable near 5.5 tonnes!!
     
  7. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    You may be in luck, Raphael. The Japanese make combines for use in small fields. I would check with someone who imports tractors from Japan and see if they'll bring a used one in for you. In this country there are small combines that are used for harvesting small experimental plots. They're very expensive unless you can find one at an auction. the University of Deleware sold off three a few years ago.

    The other possibility is one of the 12-14 hp diesel two wheeled tractors. You could cut the grain with a 4' or larger sickle bar and then use an attachment to tie the grain into bundles for hand harvesting. That's still an expensive option because the tractors alone go for $6,000+. The gas powered BCS tractors would be cheaper. They might work.
     
  8. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Check out this article. http://www.ferrari-tractors.com/smallscale.htm

    There are some some small scale equipment manufacturers included as well as a discussion of the All Crop.

    Do you have a good lightweight european scythe? It's much easier than the more heavy stamped version.

    Best Wishes
     
  9. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    In this country, I have seen walk behind mowers that were disigned to clear brush. It is not a brush hog, which chops up everything into small pieces. . t has a flat blade that goes just above the ground and cuts off every thing.

    You might be able to use one of those. I will see if I can find an ad for one of them.
     
  10. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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  11. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You mean like the Jari sickle mowers this company makes?

    http://www.year-a-round.com/

    --->Paul
     
  12. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I don't know where you would find one, but the old McCormick reaper would prob work for what you want. Then you would mow the straw and gather it separately.
     
  13. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    A suggestion. Instead of what you are proposing consider having the animals and the land to work in harmony. Fence and cross fence the property. Grow animal feed that the animals can harvest themselves. Have the animals to graze the green crops and let the corn mature. With a few animals and controlled grazing you can rotate the crops and the animals and that will improve the soil and spread the fertilizer. Only let the animals consume portions of the crop and move the partition fences as they graze an area clean. The results will give you fattened animals for market/table without stressing any one area of the property.
     
  14. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Agman makes good sense. Hand threshing small grain is a big job that gets small results. One year of trying it would give you a different point of view. Corn can be hand harvested on a small scale however. Buy the wheat and spend the time on a more profitable enterprise.
     
  15. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    First of all, welcome. I didn't post on your original thread, because someone put that enormous aerial photo up, and you're forced into horizontal scrolling back and forth. I'm about 230-240 km NNW of you at Grenfell.

    As for harvesting, maybe you could try less than the full area to start off with. For information, 1 hectare is very close to 2.5 acres. An acre is an area one furlong by one chain, or 220 yards by 22 yards, or 200 metres by 20 metres, or 50 metres by 80 metres. A moderate yield in your area would be a ton per acre, approx. 12.5 bags per acre. Alternatively 2.5 tonnes per hectare. Could be up to double that under ideal conditions, could be less - down to about three bags per acre in desperate drought. Assuming that average yield, you'd get a standard wheat bag of 180 pounds - about 81 kg - off a little less than a square 20 metres - one cricket pitch - on a side. Do twice that each day for five days and you've harvested an acre.

    Cutting it can easily be done with a scythe. The killer is picking it up - probably making sheaves of it; probably stooking the sheaves in the field (easy), transporting it (easy), and then threshing and winnowing it.

    As others have said, don't do what isn't needed. If the animals can eat it as it stands, let them - preferably still green so there's nutrients in the stem, rather than it being dry straw. If they can eat it as hay, then do that (a lot of oats is grown for oaten hay). If they can handle it without it being threshed, then by all means let them.

    Also, consider planting things which ripen over different periods if you're not mechanised. That can be different varieties (of wheat, say). It can be different species (say rather than all wheat, sow blocks of two different varietes of wheat, oats (some for grain, some for hay), triticale, barley, rye. You spread the risk and you spread the labour.

    You MAY be able to get hold of an old power take-off (PTO) driven header, and run it as a stationary threshing machine.
     
  16. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone for the huge response.

    I understand 1 hectare is a small amount and seems like a crazy idea. To explain the reason behind the question...part of our proposed business plan for our rural adventure could involve selling value added organic farmhouse food (pies & cakes etc) that are made from ingredients grown 100% on our farm. Hence, producing 2-3 tonnes of wheat may seem crazy when I could wander up the road a few kilometers and buy the wheat real cheap. But theres a bigger picture for us.

    Thanks for that info, I think 2.5 tonnes is about the amount we would like to have. So the hectare looks like the option Im after.

    Will do. I am not the kind to do more work than needs to be done, (without being remunerated ;) ) I intend to let them have all excess, and in some cases the whole crop. e.g. I will le tthem have the corn stalks and left over ears after harvesting what i need (or want to store).

    That is a great idea. From my limited knowledge of cooking there are different wheat flour types for cake baking etc vs bread, and surely different bread mixes (rye etc).

    Keep your eyes open for me will you Don? :)

    Ed K, those Ferrari Harvesters look super. Just need to be cheaper....but at elast they make them!! Thanks to you all for your feedback and links.

    Its all preparation for the new life, I know that planning ahead will save me $$$$ time and heartache.....thanks again.

    Raphael In Australia
     
  17. Bart

    Bart New Member

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