1 Rippling or Seed Removal
The object of this operation is to retrieve the flax seeds from
the seed pod, either after pulling or before scutching. The seed -"flax
seed" or "linseed" is used either as seed for next year's
crop, or for the production of "linseed oil". After extraction
of the linseed oil, a residue is left. This is "cattle cake" and
because of its high protein content is a much sought after cattle food.
.Flax seed pods
Flax staw green and retted
Retting is a process during which, with the help of micro-organisms, the
adhesive substances or pectins that bind the fibres together and the rest
of the plant are partially decomposed. This operation precedes scutching
. Several "retting" methods are used:
- In dew retting, small bundles of the uprooted flax plant are left
outdoors for 3 to 5 weeks.
- Used primarily in Belgium, water retting takes place in a tank containing
temperature-controlled warm water (37C) for 4 to 8 days.
- Finally there is another process still under research using enzymmes.
The objective is to reduce the risks linked to weather changes in ordinary
Worker at the scutching machine
This is a mechanical operation which, by breaking and beating
tha flax straw, separates the textile fibres in the sterm of the plant from
the woody matter and the bark. The straw is first broken by feeding it between
a pair of round toothed cylinders. The broken strw is then rubbed and beaten
by turbine blades, which remove the short fibres (tow) and the waste woody
matter (shiv or shive). The layer of fibre which is produced by the scutcher
is then separated into "hands". Scutching therefore produces the
- Fibres: 67% line flax (long fibres -60/90 cm in length); 33% tow
(short fibres - 10/15 cm in length).
- Shiv (or shive): woody waste matter used for the manufacture of
No part of the flax plant is wasted. The seeds produce linseed oil and cattle
cake ; the plant produces long and short fibres, and shiv.
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