When should I harvest wheat?
How do you know when your
wheat is ripe? First, let's start with the technical answer.
If you grew winter
wheat, in late
spring the heads will bulk up and turn beautiful, then the plant will
start to turn brown. At that point, squeeze a seed between your
thumb and forefinger to test it once or twice a week. At first,
the wheat seeds will exude a milky substance just like sweet corn does
when it's ripe, but then the punctured seeds will stop oozing (although
they will still dent under your thumbnail.)
You can start harvesting
as soon as the wheat seeds pass the milk stage, although the grains
will need to dry up and harden a bit before they're ready to eat.
It's best to go ahead and harvest on the early side since if you wait
too long, the heads will "shatter", meaning that the grains will fall
onto the ground.
Now for the fun way to tell
if your wheat is ready to harvest --- that overlooked part of your
garden will suddenly become a magnet for animal life. First, it
was just a cardinal who took to perching on the gate of the
wheat-filled chicken pasture, but then our second
round of chicks
decided it was worth leaving the ragweed forest to see what all the
fuss was about. When I found six chickens knocking down the wheat
stalks, I knew it was time to pull the grain out of there.
As for how to harvest the wheat ---
we're still crossing that bridge. Stay tuned for a later post.
Our chicken waterer kept our thirsty chicks
happy after a long, hard day of stealing my grain.
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