In some areas, farmers have the opportunity of selling the straw as well as the seed of flax. As previously indicated, most of this straw is processed into rugs, insulating material, book paper, upholstery tow, and fiber board. Such straw, however, must be relatively free of weeds, mold, and rust disease.
A high quality of paper can’t be economically produced from weedy flax straw. Some weeds are removed only with considerable difficulty, while others require that the straw be run through the two mill a number of extra times before it can be used. This results in excessive waste inasmuch as each time the straw is run through the breaker rolls, the strands of fiber break into shorter pieces and many of them pass out with the shives. Rusted straw is weaker and breaks at the points of infection during threshing and when it is run through the breaker rolls. This not only results in shorter strands, but also the loss of many of these strands.
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Both combined and “shock threshed” straw are satisfactory for fiber purposes. Straw that has been combined generally contains less chaff, however, and is therefore somewhat more desirable. Combined straw can be raked and stacked or baled from windrows with a pick up baler. Baling should be done as soon as possible after the flax is harvested. Avoiding weedy areas either in raking or in baling will increase the value of the straw.
If shock threshed straw is to be sold for fiber purposes, it should be well stacked. Poorly stacked straw permits the entry of considerable moisture. Under such conditions, much of the straw will mold and rot, and it will not be satisfactory for manufacturing paper. The straw is baled later from the stack.
Baled straw should be piled or stored in a manner to permit good ventilation. If the bales are stored outside, they should be covered with flax straw or other suitable material until they are hauled to market. Bales weighing approximately 80 pounds are desired.