This is a very common material which in essence is exactly like long straw. During the harvesting process, it is initially cut by a binder in the field, leaving small tied bundles of reed on the floor which farm workers have to pick up and ‘stook’ in triangle like structures so that the reed can be naturally air dried where it stands.
The straw is cut in the last week of July and traditionally left for 3 church bells (i.e. 3 weeks). When completely dry it is collected and stored in large barns to further cure.
At some point over the next few months, all the bundles are put through a thrashing drum which works like the original combine harvester: the main difference being a combine harvester will do the whole harvesting process in one, whereas a thrashing drum will be static in the yard and the farmers will bring the bundles of reed to it. This process involves feeding by hand the bundles of reed into the thrashing drum which then separates the corn, the chafe and the thatching reed, and is then tied in approximately 14 pound bundles ready to be used by thatchers. The whole process is extremely labour intensive but this is the only effective process available to obtain good quality thatching reed.