The linseed you find in the The Linseed Farm products is English grown and the majority is locally grown on our farm just outside Horsham and across Sussex. We are proud of our products, and our Farm Fresh ethos. Here we've tried to answer some of the more common questions we get asked about growing linseed, and the harvesting process.
How big is your farm and how much would you expect to harvest?
This year we are growing in the region of 220 acres. We can realise approximately ½ to 1 ton of linseed to the acre.
How do you prepare the soil?
Ploughing in the autumn is always best as winter frosts do a lot of the work in breaking the soil down ready for planting. Contractors are used to assist in the planting, husbandry and harvesting of the Linseed.
What type of soil works best?
Light well drained but moisture retentive soils are best with a recommended ph of 6-7.
How long is the growing season?
The growing season is 4 to 5 months.
What are the best growing conditions?
Spring time growing conditions are best cool and wet interspersed with periods of sunshine. Harvest conditions are best hot and dry.
The crop is harvested with a combine harvester - there is too much for it to be harvested manually!
How much time is there to harvest?
Harvesting is a critical time as we want to bring the seed in under cover in the best condition. The crop needs to be combined in full sunshine as this makes for easier cutting. At harvest the linseed is very vulnerable to bad weather conditions such as rain and wind. Excessive rain can encourage the seeds to sprout in the pod whilst still in the field and if this occurs the crop is lost. Wetness also makes combining difficult if the terrain is water logged.
What happens to the parts of the plants that are not used in production?
This year the straw left behind after combining will be baled and processed for use as animal bedding.
What are the worst things for the crop? Animals? Disease?
Linseed does not suffer too badly from birds or rabbits although some damage can occur. We reduce the disease burden by rotating the crops and planting complementary crops after the linseed.
How do you dry the seed?
In ideal combining conditions the linseed will come into the barn and not need drying. Linseed needs to be kept at about 8% moisture content to be stored safely and the same for pressing. In practice most years the seed will need some drying at harvest time, so it is passed through a large drier at low heat. The seed is stored in bulk in a clean, dry store. Clean trailers are used to transport the crop to the store where it is monitored on a regular basis according to Red Tractor recommendations. The monitoring of the stored crop is a manual process where the ambient temperature is recorded. The crop temperature is recorded via a probe thermometer and the moisture content of the crop is also recorded. If recordings show above recommended safe storage readings the seed is passed through the Ventacrop. This is an airer (drier). If seed is only slightly above recommended readings (which is usually the case) we pick good fine days to pass the seed through the Ventacrop and air it in fresh external conditions.
The linseed is protected from vermin and birds in a sealed store and pitfall taps are used to monitor any unwanted insect activity.