The main stages of cultivation flax
Flax/linen, a strong identity of the Haute-Normandie region.
The cultivation of flax is identity of Upper Normandy terroir. This is an alliance between passion, people and a favorable nature :
- An unique terroir, a mild oceanic climate, alternating rain and sun weather
- A know-how passed from generation to generation
Flax is a highly technical crop requiring expertise, special equipment, responsiveness and passion.
Each year gives rise to a particular vintage.
1. From sowing to flowering
Sown in March and April, flax/linen needs only 100 days to mature. It will quickly grow to 1m height. A sweet and regularly wet spring will ensure a steady growth of the fibers.
During this period, the farmer daily controls its flax/linen. At this stage, it is the weather that is paramount.
2. The flowering
Mid-June for a week, the flax/linen are in bloom. The fields turn blue in the morning, the flowers fade in the afternoon. This is a magical and short-lived period.
This period is also when heavy showers may make flax/linen lodge. Fortunately, this is a robust plant: it recovers.
3. The pulling
Flax/linen is pulled down mid-July, it is not cut because fiber run from the roots to the top of the stem.
This should be done when the plant is mature and in good weather conditions. Flax/linen needs to dry a bit before starting retting.
4. Seeds harveting
A week after pulling, the farmers will harvest the seeds by separating them from the straw with a deseeding machine.
These seeds will be sown next year.
5. The retting
Retting is a key step for the quality of flax fibers. The rain must alternate with sun and breeze to allow the straw begins to separate from the fiber.
The farmer brings its konw-how gained through many years of experience, regularly returning straw to get the best possible fibers.
6. The harvest of retted straws
When retting is at an advanced stages, the farmers brings a sample of straw to the scutching mill for separating the straw from fiber.
Then the technicians of Terre de Lin controls the quality of the fiber. They decide together with the farmer if the flax/linen should be rolled or wait a downpour to improve the retting.
When optimal, the farmer must be very reactive to roll the retted flax straw because the slightest dew will affect the quality of the fiber.