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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ORGANIC AND REDUCED INPUT FRESH MARKET SPECIALTY CROP PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR THE SOUTHERN GREAT PLAINS Title: Factors influencing kenaf harvesting and processing in the United States

Authors
item Webber, Charles
item Bledsoe, Robert -
item Blesdoe, Venita -
item Feaster, Gerald -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 10, 2010
Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Citation: Webber III, C.L., Bledsoe, R.E., Blesdoe, V.K., Feaster, G.J. 2011. Factors influencing kenaf harvesting and processing in the United States. In: Webber, C.L. III, Liu, A., editors. Plant Fibers as Renewable Feedstocks for Biofuel and Bio-based Products. CCG International, Incorporated. p. 127-140.

Interpretive Summary: The continued expansion of a commercial industry using kenaf fibers will encompass a multi-faceted approach to management decisions which address the many aspects of the kenaf production, harvesting, processing, and marketing systems. The initial step in managing these systems is a greater understanding of the elements within each segment of the system. The commercial success of kenaf has important potential economic and environmental benefits in the areas of soil remediation, toxic waste cleanup, removal of oil spills on water, biofuel production, reduced chemical and energy use for paper production, greater recycled paper quality, reduced soil erosion, replacement or reducing use of synthetic fibers in industrial products, and increased use of recycled plastics. The activities of private industry augmented by public supported agricultural research continues to provide a diverse range of new kenaf products that suggests a bright future for the continued expansion of kenaf as a commercial crop within the United States.

Technical Abstract: The selection of the appropriate kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L., Malvaceae) production and harvest system is dependent on many factors, including location, equipment availability, storage options, processing plants, plant utilization, and economics. Since its first domestication, kenaf has consistently been hand-harvested for use as a cordage crop (rope, twine, and sackcloth). The bark portion, which contains bast fiber strands for cordage, was hand stripped, bundled, and placed in water for the retting process. The advent of new uses for kenaf has resulted in development of new equipment for harvesting and processing. The development of whole-stalk harvesters has taken three major approaches; sugarcane-type harvesters, forage-type harvesters, and decorticators. Two primary considerations for all harvesting and processing systems must include the 75% moisture content of actively growing kenaf plants and the low bulk density of dried kenaf stalks. The purpose of this review is to discuss kenaf yield components (stalks [bark and core] leaves, and seeds), their potential uses, and options available for harvesting and processing kenaf.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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