Cultivation of Flax Fiber

Bast Fiber
Cultivation of Flax Fiber
Yashashree Ingle
Department of Textile Technology
Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai, India

It takes about 100 days from seed plating to harvesting of the flax plant. Flax cannot endure very hot weather and the flax seed must be shallowly planted.


  • After 90 days(3 Months) the leaves wither stem turns yellow and seed turns brown, indicating its time of harvest. The plant must be pulled as soon as it appears brown or it results the fiber without luster.
  • The stalk of the plant must be pulled out of the ground by hand or machine and not cut because cutting the stalk looses its sap and affects the quality of linen.
  • The stalks are tied in bundle called “Beets” and are ready for the extracting of flax fiber.
  • Releasing the fiber from the plant(Ripping)
  • It is the process of removing the seeds.
  • It is done by threshing machine that strip the seeds before it is retted.
  • Bundles of flax are piled into wigwams in the fields to dry.


  • Retting or Soaking losen the flax fiber from the inside straw.
  • If flax is not fully retted the stalk of the plant cannot be separated from the fiber with injuring the fibers.
  • There are different types of retting namely tank, dew, chemical.

Breaking and Scutching:

  • To break the woody core is broken into fragments by passing straws between the fluted rollers of the breaking machine.
  • The broken straw is then subjected to the process known as Scutching, which separates the woody material from the fiber. 
  • This is done by beating the straw with blunt wooden or metal blades on scotching machine.
  • Then the woody material is removed as shive, which is usually burnt as fuel.


  • After scutching the fibers areusually combed or hacked by drawing them through sets of pins.
  • Now the coarse bundle of fibers are in this way separated into finer bundles. The long fine fibers are known as line and the shorter fibers are turned into TOW.
  • The TOW obtained is then subjected to further combing which aligns the fibers more accurately.
  • Then they are collected into loosely held rope of fiber called a sliver or rove which is further converted into Yarn.

Application of Flax fiber:

  • It is used in tent canvas, fishing lines.
  • The flax fiber is also used in the preparation of Upholstery, Luggage fabric, Clothing apparels surgical threads etc.
  • Linen is also used for manufacturing reinforced composites, insulations and filtration.
  • It is also used for producing decorative fabric.

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