Submitted to: Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/10/2001
Publication Date: 11/10/2001
Citation: Akin, D.E., Dodd, R.B., Foulk, J.A., Mcalister III, D.D. 2001. Flax fiber: potential for a new crop in the southeast [abstract). Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops Conference. p. 29.
Technical Abstract: Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is the source of fiber for textiles, i.e., linen, and linseed. Globally, the US is the largest per capita consumer of flax fiber, but no flax is produced for fiber and as a result all textile and composite grade fiber is imported. More economical means are required to produce flax fibers and an improved method for separating fiber from the eflax stem is required to establish a flax/linen industry. The objective o this work was to evaluate traditional farm equipment for flax production and to develop and test an enzyme-retting method to replace dew-retting. Flax was grown as a winter crop in the southern US and harvested with traditional mowing and baling equipment. A retting formulation based on commercial, pectinase-rich enzyme mixtures plus chelator was used to ret flax, including both varieties grown for fiber and for seed, using a recently developed spray-enzyme-retting method. New methods of harvesting flax, using traditional agricultural equipment to mow, bale and store flax produced fibers adequate for new retting methods. Fiber with suitable properties of strength and fineness were produced by enzyme retting, with commercial pectinase-rich enzymes and chelators, and commercial cleaning equipment. Flax fiber can be produced in the southern US with traditional farming equipment. Fibers of suitable properties can be adequately produced using a newly developed enzyme-retting method. Large scale production of fiber by this method should focus on improving retting efficiency, based on cost and fiber quality, and should be integrated with commercial cleaning systems. Towards this goal, a pilot plant for flax research is being established at Clemson, ARS-USDA.