After 48 months from plantation it is possible to make the first cutting of the leaves of the sisal, in which there can be harvested around 50 to 70 leaves per plant. From this first cut, about 30% of the leaves are not suitable for rope making.
From the second cut, which will happen about 9 to 12 months after the first cut, there can be harvested about 30 leaves.
The cutting of the leaves is done manually by workers who can cut up to 2,500 leaves per day.
The most common transportation is made by donkeys using bags called ´cangalhas` on the top of their backs, where the leaves are placed in. The animals can transport approximately 200 leaves at a time, which weight between 100 to 130 kilos.
After the extraction of the leaves the decortication (elimination of the pulp of the leaves through a mechanic scraper) is done. For the decortication, a machine of mechanic stroke named 'motor de Agave' or 'máquina paraíbana' is used. This machine is composed of an iron cylinder of 23 cm of diameter which carries on its peripheries (12 peripheries) teeth of equal dimensions of 1,3/8"x 1/4" that once spinning, crushes and scrapes the leaves. The machine is activated by a motor of 7 to 12 cv power which runs by the use of diesel.
Because of its simplicity, this machine presents low operational capacity - between 150 to 200 kg of dry fiber per day - and produces high waste of fibers - around 20% to 30% of the fibers contained on the leaves. It is operated by only one man, who is responsible for inserting the leave in the hole of the machine so that the leave gets scraped. Besides the operator, two other people assist in the process: one is responsible for taking out the pulp which accumulates under the machine and the other is responsible for handling the leave to the operator. This last person is also in charge of weighing the fiber.
After the decortication, the fibers gathered are transported by donkeys to an area where they get hanged out on wire lines in order to get dried by the sun. After a period of 8 to 10 hours exposed in the sun, once the humidity should be within the average of 13,5%, the fibers are organized in small bundles called 'manocas' and taken to a shed.