An animal-powered thresher

Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain (or other crop) from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it. It is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing, which separates the loosened chaff from the grain. Threshing does not remove the bran from the grain.[1]

Threshing may be done by beating the grain using a flail on a threshing floor. Another traditional method of threshing is to make donkeys or oxen walk in circles on the grain on a hard surface. A modern version of this in some areas is to spread the grain on the surface of a country road so the grain may be threshed by the wheels of passing vehicles.[2]

Hand threshing was laborious, with a bushel of wheat taking about an hour.[3] In the late 18th century, before threshing was mechanized, about one-quarter of agricultural labor was devoted to it.[4]

Industrialization of threshing began in 1786 with the invention of the threshing machine by Scotsman Andrew Meikle. Today, in developed areas, it is now mostly done by machine, usually by a combine harvester, which harvests, threshes, and winnows the grain while it is still in the field.[5][6]

The cereal may be stored in a threshing barn or silos.

A Threshing Bee is a festival held in communities to commemorate this process. The event is often held over multiple days and includes flea markets, hog wrestling, and dances.[7][8][9]

See also

Look up threshing in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Threshing.


  1. "threshing".
  2. M. Partridge, Farm Tools through the Ages (1973)
  3. Atack, Jeremy; Passell, Peter (1994). A New Economic View of American History. New York: W.W. Norton and Co. pp. 282–3. ISBN 0-393-96315-2.
  4. Clark, Gregory (2007). A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton University Press. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-691-12135-2.
  5. "Andrew Meikle (1719-1811) engineer and inventor of the threshing machine, the predecessor of the combine harvester". Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  6. "The Threshing Machine -- Separation of Grain from Stalks and Husks".
  7. "home".
  9. "Welcome to the Donnelly Threshing Bee".

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