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Harvest flax

Natural fibres for spinning & dyeing

Harvesting Flax for Fibre

Flax- seed pods
a) When do I harvest flax?
b) How do I harvest flax?
c) How much fibre will I get?
d) How do I prepare the fibre

e) Rippling flax (opens a new page)


5) When do I harvest flax?
Your flax will grow to about a metre high and it is ready to harvest at about 30 to 35 days after flowering, when the stalks are turning yellow but there is still some green in them. From sowing the seed to harvest takes approximately 100 days. The longer you leave the flax plants, the coarser the fibre. Conversely, if you harvest a few days after flowering you will get very fine flax fibre.

If you want to save your own seed, leave a small patch of flax in the ground until the seed pods are brown and dry.

6) How do I harvest flax?
Flax stooksThis is fun bit. When your flax is ready, just pull the plants, keeping all the seed pods in one direction and the roots in another. Tie the flax in bundles, called stooks, and leave then upright to dry. You might need to tie them around a pyramid of 3 bamboo canes to keep them upright.

7) How much flax fibre will I get?
A 1.5m by 5 m patch of flax produces about 350 grams of flax fibre.

8) How do I prepare flax fibre?
This process traditionally uses a flax ripple but you could also use a cheap plastic comb and comb the seeds away from the plant. Or you can make your own flax ripple (see Rippling Flax page)!

You might like to save the seed, as it might well be ripe enough to sow the following year.

You then need to ret the fibre, and this is something you learn by experience. So don’t ret all your fibre at once, do a bundle at a time until you are more experienced. You can store unretted flax through the winter, just make sure it is in a place safe from mice.

Read about Rippling Flax and then Retting Flax Fibre (each opens a new page)

Back to Growing Flax and Sowing Flax

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Last updated on 24 January 2014
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