Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/6/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Development of a US flax/linen industry addresses many priority areas of ARS and US agriculture by promoting new crops for rural economic development, supplying value-added products from crops, and improved global competitiveness (the US currently produces no fiber flax). A major problem to establishing this industry is the lack of industry standards. Research carried out collaboratively between ARS, the University of Georgia, and th Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture evaluated flax retted by various methods, including the experimental method of enzyme retting, for color values. Results showed that the procedure worked well to objectively analyze flax fiber for lightness, red, and yellow values (standards in industry) and that the enzyme method gave a significantly different product than dew-retting. Information is important towards developing commercial color standards for flax and also shows the advantage of enzyme retting in this regard.
Technical Abstract: Color measurements were carried out on various types of flax and retted by dew, water, or enzymes. Two sets of samples were analyzed under different conditions using different spectrophotometers and by reflectance in the visible and near infrared spectral regions. The enzyme-retted fiber flax class forms a separate group that is substantially lighter and slightly more yellow than dew-retted flax. Water-retted flax is intermediate between dew-retted and enzyme-retted flax but tends to be more similar to dew-retted flax. A second set of 16 samples consisted of dew-, water-, and spray-enzyme-retted samples, with the latter samples also analyzed with regard to subsequent cleaning processes. The enzyme-retted fibers tended to be lighter and more yellow than water-retted ones, with water- and enzyme-retted fibers not significantly (P > 0.05) different. None of the flax fibers were as light as cotton samples that were included for comparison. The Delta E(CIELAB) was 8.8 between dew-and water-retted fibers, 13.6 between dew-and enzyme-retted fibers, and 4.9 between water- and enzyme-retted fibers. Factors that affected color of enzymatically retted flax fibers were prior microbial activity, shive content, and fiber fineness. The use of these color methods could form the basis for developing a color standard for short staple flax fibers.