Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/22/2002
Publication Date: 7/1/2003
Citation: AKIN, D.E., MORRISON III, W.H., RIGSBY, L.L., EVANS, J.D., FOULK, J.A. INFLUENCE OF WATER PRE-SOAK ON ENZYME-RETTING OF FLAX. INDUSTRIAL CROPS AND PRODUCTS. 2003. v. 17. p. 149-159. Interpretive Summary: Interpretive Summary Better methods of extracting fibers from flax (retting) are required to improved fiber quality and uniformity for use in textile and composites industries. The recently developed enzyme-retting method improves retting, but further modifications are needed to enhance efficiency. A water pre-wash, traditionally used before water-retting to remove contaminants, was employed with variable results. With some samples, fine fiber yield was improved but strength reduced. Data suggest that the pre-wash could improve retting with certain samples and a broader study is needed to more completely assess this method.
Technical Abstract: Abstract Water-soaking of flax as a means to improve enzyme-retting did not provide clear benefits with these samples. Improvement in fine fiber yield occurred at times, but fiber strength was decreased. With both water-soaked and unsoaked early Ariane flax, fine fiber yield was similar for 4, 8, and 24 h incubations, whereas fiber strength and fineness decreased with increased incubation time. Results with these samples indicated that enzyme-retting was as efficient at 4 h as 24 h for yield and suggested that various incubation times could be employed to modify fiber properties, as occurs with different enzyme-chelator proportions (Akin et al., 2002). In contrast to the toxicity reported for chemical extracts from flax (Gamble et al., 2000), water extracts from soaked flax, even as a concentrated freeze-dried residue, did not inhibit microbial or enzyme systems related to retting up to 0.5% (w/v). General growth inhibition occurred for the gram positive bacterium Streptococcus sp. with a more pronounced effect with water extracts from mature plants. This inhibition did not appear to be related to aromatic compounds analyzed in this study. The moderate and variable benefits of pre-soaking in this study suggest the need for sampling a broader range of harvests. At that time, pre-soaked and wet samples, rather than dried samples, could be evaluated for improved retting efficiency.