module 02 Harvesting
 lesson 04 Cutting the rice crop
 obj 1 To describe the correct methods of cutting rice crops and their importance
What is cutting?
1st step of harvesting Cutting in post production means cutting the mature panicles and straw above the ground.
Cutting the crop is the first operation in the harvesting process.
  Why is proper and timely cutting important?
Prevent losses by cutting properly and at the right time Proper cutting and placing of the cut crop in the field minimizes shattering loss and prevents re-wetting of the grains from water standing in the field.

Harvesting at the right time and moisture content gives maximum yield of quality rice.
Two cutting methods: by hand or by machine
Manual cutting 1. By hand:
The most common method for harvesting rice in Asia is the manual system - by hand.
The rice crop is cut using simple hand tools: sickles cutting 15-25 cm above ground level, or hand-held knives to cut just below the panicle. The harvested crop is sometimes bundled to improve handling and transport.
The manual system of harvesting is very effective in lodged crop conditions, however it is labor intensive. Manual harvesting requires 40 to 80 person-hours per ha. It will take additional labor to collect the harvested crop.

Mechanical cutting 2. By machine:
Cutting can also be done mechanically by a reaper, although the use of reapers is not wide-spread in Asia. In some countries, reapers are used that are mounted on the front of a tractor. Most reapers lay the crop in a windrow, which allows for easy pick up of the harvested crop.
A reaper with a cutting-width of 1.5m can operate at a rate of 2-4 ha per day. For proper operation of reapers, fields need to be leveled and drained. It is difficult to reap crop that is lodged (lying on the ground).

Tips for good cutting
Important guidelines for cutting the crop:
  • Drain the field 7-10 days before the expected harvest date, or when the upper grains in most of the tillers are in the hard dough stage turning from green to yellow.
  • When laying the cut crop in the field make sure that the panicles with the grains stay dry and are off the ground.
Next lesson

In the next lesson we will have a look at field drying, hauling and stacking.



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