They are then pulled, and after the seed has been removed are retted in the ordinary way.
The work of van Tieghem, van Senus, Fribes, Omeliansky and others has now shown that while certain anaerobic bacteria decompose the substance of the middle lamella - chiefly pectin compounds - and thus bring about the isolation of the cellulose fibres when, for instance, flax is steeped or " retted," they are unable to attack the cellulose itself.
As a general rule the removal of the " bolls " or capsules by the process of rippling immediately follows the pulling, the operation being performed in the field; but under some systems of cultivation, as, for example, the Courtrai method, alluded to below, the crop is made up into sheaves, dried and stacked, and is only boiled and retted in the early part of the next ensuing season.
One part was retted at Millisle by the patent-system of Loppens and Deswarte; the other was sent to Courtrai and steeped in the Lys.
Both lots when retted and scutched were examined by an inspector of the department and by several flax spinners.