What role was played by the mechanical reaper in the harvest?
- Once the crop had ripened, it had to be harvested. Before the 1830s, the grain used to be harvested with a cradle or sickle.
- At harvest time, hundreds of men and women could be seen in the fields cutting the crop.
- In 1831, Cyrus McCormick invented the first mechanical reaper which could cut in one day as much as five men could cut with cradles and 16 men with sickles.
- By the early 20th century most farmers were using combined harvesters to cut the crop.
- With one of these machines, 500 acres of wheat could be harvested in two weeks.