How can I thresh small grains by hand?
Answer: Threshing?the act of physically breaking the grain kernel out of the plants seed head?is done by some form of beating. With small amounts of grain, it can be done by beating the grain heads against the inside of a clean container such as a bucket. As the grain kernels break free, they also bring with them smaller structures of the head, such as the awns, glumes, and small pieces of the stems, which are all described as chaff. With larger amounts of grain, you can use a clean concrete surface or a blanket or tarp and use a flail.Once the grain has been separated from the head and you have collected the grain kernels, these need to be separated from the chaff. This is done by passing air over a downward-falling grain stream through a stream of wind. That wind can be outdoors or easily created using a household electrical fan. There is an excellent YouTube video entitled Grain Thresher Design and Winnowing-How To, which illustrates several home-designed threshing devices using an electrical drill with some pieces of chain and a five-gallon bucket for threshing and using a household fan for winnowing. It is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDr8VF2QIPM.To learn more about topics related to small grains, visit the Field Crops section of ATTRA’s website at https://attra.ncat.org/field.html.