Skip to main content
The Raupp Museum Online Database

What is Threshing?

Postcard, Picture

Threshing at Michael Raupp's Farm, Buffalo Grove, C. 1908

What is Threshing?

Farmers all over the midwest were threshing in the late summer months. So what is it?

Threshing is the action of removing the grain or edible parts of a plant from its straw or stalk. For example, threshing corn would be removing the seeds from the cob and stalk. Threshing wheat and oats means removing the seeds or grain from stem. Wheat and oat plants have a head of edible grain on top of the stem that is removed after grain is cut and dried.

Before machinery, threshing was done by hand and it took a very, very long time. Different areas of the world used different types of threshing methods. For early-mid 1800s farmers in the United States, flailing was common. A flail was a pair of connected sticks that a farmer would use to hit the bundles of grain, separating the grain from the chaff (the protective casing of seeds or grains). Threshing by hand could take up to a quarter of the total time spent working on the farm.

Print, Photographic

Flailing beans. Chippwea County, Wisconsin. C. September, 1939

Vachon, John, photographer. Flailing beans. Chippwea County, Wisconsin. Sept. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

What is Threshing?