Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #170378


item Akin, Danny
item Foulk, Jonn
item Morrison Iii, Wiley

Submitted to: United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/20/2004
Publication Date: 12/11/2004
Citation: Akin, D.E., Dodd, R.B., Foulk, J.A., Morrison III, W.H. 2004. Research to develop and support a US flax fiber industry. In: Proceedings of the 33rd United States-Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources, December 8-21, 2004, Honolulu, Hawaii. p. 96-100.

Interpretive Summary: Opportunities are great for the development of a flax fiber industry to supply a domestic source of high and consistent quality fiber to diverse industries. Research has been conducted for several years by ARS and university collaborators to address particular problems that are barriers to establishing a flax fiber industry in the US including: retting, processing, and standards. This publication reviews progress in each of these three areas and addresses future needs and directions. Information is useful in putting forth a strategy to bring about and support this biobased fiber industry.

Technical Abstract: Flax (Linum ustitatissimum L.) provides fiber for multiple industrial applications, but none is produced in the U.S. Development of a domestic source of high and consistent quality flax fiber would supply industrial needs, meet priorities in ARS-USDA for new and sustainable and bio-based products, and improve farm economies. While the opportunities bode well for a flax fiber industry, research is needed to overcome key problems. Progress is reported for three areas of research undertaken by ARS-USDA and collaborators including: 1) improved retting, i.e., separation of fiber in stems, 2) mechanical fiber cleaning integrated with retting, and 3) objective standards to judge fiber quality. An enzyme-retting method has been developed to pilot plant level but must be improved based on cost and fiber properties. A USDA Flax Fiber Pilot Plant has been established for the first stage of mechanical cleaning. The Flax and Linen subcommittee of ASTM International has developed three approved standards, has a document on trash for committee balloting, and continues work on standards for other properties.