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Before threshing machines, flails were used to separate seeds of grain from their chaff or coverings. The head of wheat or of another plant was cut off above the ground, allowed to dry thoroughly, and brought in to the barn where it was laid on the wooden threshing floor. The flail beat the grain to dislodge it from the chaff. Once the two were separate, the grain was collected in a further process called winnowing.
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