Wheat harvest at Genesee Country Village and Museums (NY, USA)

Updated: Nov 15

Genesee Country Village and Museum in New York State is a 19th century living history farm and one of our growers within the Year On The Field Project. Located in the area around Rochester, an area world renowned in the first half of the 19th century for the quality of its wheat, Genesee also planted a small field this past year.


This years wheat field at Genesee Country Village and Museum

The field was plowed and harrowed in fall 2021 using a yoke of oxen. Most of the field was plowed with a reproduction of an early 19th century hog plow, which was made at the museum. This plow is manned by one person while the oxen are driven by another person. They also used an American Civil War era conical plow for a few furrows. While in the past they used a more historically accurate spike harrow, for this field a chain harrow had to be put to work as the old reproduction spike harrow was broken.


Plowing the wheat field in the fall of 2021

On July 9th 2022 it was harvest day.


Harvesting wheat using hand sickles


Amanda W., current farm lead at Genesee, shared a detailed harvest report with us: we harvested by hand using sickles and a cradle scythe. We harvested just as soon as the milk was out of the wheat berry and while the elbows were still green, especially for the part of the field which was in the shade. This was a little earlier than we usually harvest as we were trying to make best use of the weather, harvest according to a period almanac, and experiment with harvesting at this stage, especially to see how the wheat might thresh. We harvested a good week or two before most of the commercial wheat growers in the region. We bundled the wheat into sheaves and shocked them in the field. We kept the shocks standing in the field for about 3 days. We had a good yield, but more straggly plants than usual, perhaps from overseeding.


Putting the wheat bundles into sheaves

Shocked wheat sheaves after harvest