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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Prospects of Kenaf as an alternative field crop in Virginia

Authors
item Bhardwaj, H - VIRGINIA STATE UNIV.
item Webber, Charles

Submitted to: Virginia Journal of Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 6, 2005
Publication Date: December 1, 2005
Citation: Bhardwaj, H.L., Webber III, C.L. 2005. Prospects of Kenaf as an alternative field crop in Virginia. Virginia Journal of Science. 56(3):115-120.

Interpretive Summary: Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.), a relative of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.), is a warm-season annual plant that originated in northern Africa and has been used as a cordage crop in for many years in India, Russia, and China. In the United States, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, state universities, and private industry have developed alternative uses for the bark and bast fibers. Although preliminary research has indicated the feasibility of kenaf production in Virginia, production details are lacking. Field experiments were conducted during 1995 and 1996 to determine optimal row spacing, fertilizer requirements, and kenaf cultivars. Everglades 41 and everglades 71 were used in the row spacing and fertilizer experiments, while 21 cultivars (9 broad-leaf and 12 narrow-leaf) were used in the cultivar evaluations. Although the results indicated that dry matter yields following four row spacings (30, 60, 90, and 120 cm) and four fertilizer rates of N, P, and K (50, 100, 150, and 200 kg/ha) were not statistically different, the yields were adequate - ranging from 8.8 (GR 2563) to 16.0 Mg/ha (78-18RS-10) with an average yield of 12.5 Mg/ha. Narrow-leaf cultivars proved superior to broad-leaf, and the overall results demonstrated that kenaf can be easily produced in Virginia. This research provides baseline information on suitable row spacings, fertilizer rates, and cultivars for kenaf production in Virginia.

Technical Abstract: Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.), a warm-season annual plant, has shown potential as an alternate fiber source in the United States. Although preliminary research has indicated feasibility of kenaf production in Virginia, production details are lacking. Field experiments were conducted during 1995 and 1996 to determine optimal row spacing, fertilizer requirements, and kenaf cultivars. Everglades 41 and everglades 71 were used in the row spacing and fertilizer experiments, while 21 cultivars (9 broad-leaf and 12 narrow-leaf) were evaluated in the cultivar study. Although the results indicated that dry matter yields for the four row spacings (30, 60, 90, and 120 cm) and four fertilizer rates of N, P, and K (50, 100, 150, and 200 kg/ha) were not statistically different, the yields were adequate - ranging from 8.8 (GR 2563) to 16.0 Mg/ha (78-18RS-10) with an average yield of 12.5 Mg/ha. Narrow-leaf cultivars proved superior to broad-leaf, and the overall results demonstrated that kenaf can be easily produced in Virginia.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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