Basket willow cultivation:
Basket willow is planted in the spring. 120,000 cuttings are needed to create a 1-hectare willow plantation. The basket willow plantation can be operated for 15 to 20 years. Basket willow grows in three months, i.e. May, June and July (2.5 m in 100 days).
Basket willow is harvested from mid-March, before the sap rises. Today, the willow cutter’s hands have been replaced by a machine. The willow branches are assembled into bundles and transported to the wickerworks.
Before wicker-making:
After sorting, i.e. removing weeds and reeds, the “withies” (or rods), are graded according size, 25 cm at a time. This operation, carried out with the help of a gauge, is known as grading. These rods are then gathered back into bundles, which are soaked vertically in water tanks until the leaves and flowers have developed.
This stage in the preparation process transforms the green willow into white willow, i.e. willow that is stripped of its bark. In the past, this was done using a hand-peeler, but it was laborious work, which today justifies the use of an automatic stripping machine. The stripped rods are then dried in the sun, before being placed in a dry, dark store until they are used by the basket maker, who will have to moisten them again before working on them to make them more flexible.