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The process by which the bast fibers of certain plants (flax, hemp, ramie and jute) are separated from their stalks. The resultant soft, resilient fibers have been used to make fabric for tens of thousands of years.

Retting involves the rotting away of the stalk, through submersion in a body of water such as a stream or pond, dew moistening in a field, and more recently with the use of chemicals.