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close this bookBetter Farming Series 15 - Cereals (FAO - INADES, 1977, 51 p.)
close this folderGrowing cereals in the modern way
View the documentClearing land and grubbing out trees
View the documentConserving and improving the soil
View the documentApplying manure and fertilizers
View the documentPreparing the soil
View the documentSelecting and preparing seeds
View the documentSowing in rows
View the documentHow to look after cereals
View the documentHarvesting
View the documentSelling part of the harvest


Cutting the stems of cereals

When the grain is ripe, you must not wait too long before harvesting.
If you wait too long, the grain may fall to the ground, and birds may come and eat the grain on the plant.

Cut the stems with a machete, a sickle or a knife.

Cut the stems

· Afterwards cut off the heads of grain with a knife. Leave the stems on the ground. These stems cover the ground and protect the soil from the sun and from erosion. After rotting, the stems add organic matter to the soil.

If you keep animals, you can put the stems in their stalls or paddock.
Mixed with the animal droppings, the stems make manure which will enrich the fields.

· Drying the grain

When you have cut the heads, you must not thresh them at once, nor put them in a granary. First of all, you must dry them very well. Spread the heads on a really clean surface. Stop sheep, goats and birds from eating the grain.

When the heads are well dried, you can thresh them, that is, separate the grain from the heads. But do not thresh all your crop at once. Keep the greater part of the harvest as heads of grain. Thresh only the amount you need for food.

· Threshing cereals

Threshing means getting the grain out of the heads. Threshing can be done by beating the heads with a stick, or with a special tool called a flail. For rice there is a machine that separates the rice grains from the heads. It is called a thresher.

Small rice thrasher

· Winnowing the grain

Cereal grain must be very clean. This is important. It must not be mixed with earth and little stones. When the grain has been threshed, it is winnowed to make it cleaner.

For winnowing, use a sieve, or else pour the grain from one flat bowl into another.

The wind blows the dirt away

· Storing cereal grain

Storing can be done in sacks or in granaries.

The sacks and the granaries must be protected against damp, which makes the grain rot, and against rats and insects, which eat or spoil the grain.

The granaries must be above the ground to keep the grain dry.

The granaries must be disinfected. Ask the extension officer what pesticides to use and how to apply them. Some pesticides are poisonous.

Straw cover

Clay granary in northern Cameroon