Harvest is usually the busiest time of year for farmers and in the Pakistan most crops are harvested in July, August and the early part of September. For much of the past years crops have been harvested by hand although the Romans did develop a machine that stripped the ears of the corn from the straw. This appears not to have lasted after the decline of the Roman Empire and it was not until the 19th Century that parts of the harvesting process became mechanised again. The modern combine harvester which integrates the cutting of the crop with the separation of the grain from the ear, became widespread in the agricultural revolution after the Second World War. Today the same principles apply as have always done and cutting a crop cannot commence until the crop is ready or “fit”. The most important aspect of this is moisture content. Crops need to be harvested dry so that they can be stored for long periods without deterioration.
A crop of wheat ready for harvest. This picture was taken in early August and the crop was cut a few days later. At the top of the crop are the ears which are now bent over and pointing downwards, a sign that the crop is fit for combining. Cereal crops tend to become a golden brown colour towards harvest. This is because the crop is senescing and the resources of the plant are being transferred to the grain in the ear.