For Cornish farmers the cereal harvest starts in mid July. Wheat and barley are the most commonly grown cereal crops in Cornwall.
Wheat is sown in the autumn or early spring. When the shoots first appear it looks just like a field of grass.
As it grows each shoot produces a stem which grows to a height of about 60cm. At the top of each stem a seed head emerges that is called an ‘ear’. The ear contains about 40 grains or seeds which will yield flour when ground up.
When the crop is golden yellow and fully ripe it is time to bring in the combine harvester.
The combine cuts down the crop and separates the grain from rest of the plant. The grain is collected and the straw, the stem of the plant, passes through the machine and is dropped on the ground behind it.
The grain is off loaded into a trailer which is driven alongside the combine while it continues to cut through the crop. When one trailer is full, another one takes its place.
The loaded trailers are driven back to the farmyard where the grain is tipped in to the store.
A good spell of sunny weather is needed for harvesting so that the grain is dry enough to store into the winter.
If it is too wet, the grain will heat up and start to sprout in the store and it will be of no use. Sometimes there is just not enough sunshine and farmers must get on and harvest their crops as best they can. Then the farmer will use a grain drier which blows warm air through it, a bit like a hair drier.
Back in the field, the combine has left the straw in tidy rows across the field ready for baling. As the baler is driven up each row, it picks up the straw, rolls it up tightly and ties off each bale with string or net.
Once it is baled the straw can be safely left on the field for a time as the tightly packed straw in the bales will stay dry even if it rains – like a cottage with a thatched roof.