The Grain Chain Episode 2: The Farming Year

This time we're looking at the farming year

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The main cereal crops that farmers grow are wheat, barley, and oats, but I bet you didn’t know how busy a farmer’s year is…

It all starts around the end of Autumn, when we’re enjoying Halloween and Bonfire Night!

At that time of year, farmers are out in the cold, ploughing their fields and sowing seeds ready for next year.

Most farmers will also spray the ground with chemicals called herbicides and pesticides. Herbicides help keep pesky weeds away, and pesticides kill bugs.

Not all farmers do this though, some farms are called ‘organic farms’ and that means they don’t use herbicides or pesticides.

Once that’s all done, they just have to wait for the┬áseeds to germinate and start to grow.

By spring, the crops will be well on the way and with a bit of luck will be growing nice and strong, producing loads of shoots!

The farmer wants to keep them nice, so some will use fertilisers to help the plants grow big and strong!

By early Summer the cereal crops will have grown their “ears” – that’s the bits where the grains are.

The weather plays a big part in how successful the crop is – a bad summer can mean a poor crop and in parts of the world that can make the difference between food and no food…

When it’s ready, over the late Summer – most likely when you’re having a nice relax on your school summer holidays, the crops will be harvested using combine harvesters.

As well as cutting the stalks, these huge machines will separate out the grain.

The stalks are valuable to the farmer. Once they’re cut, the stalks will be baled and left to dry, which as well as providing a food for cows and horses, can also make a nice bed for animals!

If it’s even a teeny weeny bit damp, grain may rot and that’s the last thing the farmer wants – so the grain has to be dried and stored on the farm, before being sent to a mill to be made into flour.

Once the harvest is done, it might sound like there would be time for our farmer to take a holiday! No chance!

He or she will have to start the farming cycle all over again, ploughing and preparing the fields for the next crop.

But before all of that, they’ll get a chance to take a breather and celebrate the harvest, and try some of their produce at a local harvest festival. Phew! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it…

Visit the Grain Chain Homepage

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