Here are two stocks of water reed which we are using; the one on the left is Austrian and the one on the right is Chinese. Once the reed is on the roof it is virtually impossible to tell them apart especially when the reed darkens down. The reed arrives in large bales usually 70 or 80 bundles to a bale. There will be some retired Thatchers who will remember when reed was not baled and often half a day would have to be set aside for two or three men to unload a lorry load of maybe 2000 bundles; these would be graded into short , medium and long bundles.
Many people think of water reed as being Norfolk Reed and reed does still come from Norfolk . . . however the vast majority of reed now comes from Turkey, China, Austria, Hungary, The Ukraine, France and Poland. It is surprising how many customers voice an opinion as to what reed they would prefer based solely on which Country it comes from even though this is not based on any knowledge of the quality of the reed or how it will look on their roofs.
See also my blog item of January 17th 2013.