Pocket Knife / Scissors
This method is effective for collecting very specific heads for seed saving purposes. It's not fast enough for large quantities.
Each culture (and plant type) has developed their own solution to 'cutting stalks'.
I have several, but over the years migrated to a particular favorite.
The scythe will cut the grain stalks very nicely and quickly, however, the stalks will not fall in 'bundles' This is fine for making hay where the grass is raked into piles. For grain, most hand threshing methods work best if the seed heads are all on one end. If you cut grain this way, gathering the stalks and aligning them will be time consuming.
Scythe with Grain Cradle
A wonderful improvement over the scythe by itself is to add a method to 'gather' the stalks as they are cut. A wide range of methods to guide the grain as it cut have been used which can be seen in this snip of what Google finds for 'grain cradle":
How to make one: Grain cradle - history, use, and how to make one - Scythe Supply
(add the Tillers pictures and video)
Greenfield Village in Dearborn MI uses their reaper to cut and bundle the wheat in their demonstration farm. They have a nice article with photos and videos here:
Even today, these older processes are still in use and can be purchased new. For example, BCS offers this gas powered reaper binder:
For our heritage grain plots, having one of these would be an ideal dream if we were going to plant larger plots of the same variety.
I saw this one in a Facebook group. If I had this, I would need a tractor with a belt drive, and then, a bigger barn.
Pull Behind Combines
(ask Polly to use her photo)
Mini Plot Combine
(ask somebody from the AC group for a photo)
(ask Aunt Nancy for a photo)