An annual hibiscus plant ... a member of the mallow family, which includes the well known crops of cotton and okra. Kenaf is a tough, fibrous plant that resembles a very tall okra plant with similar leaves and blossoms.
A plant species native to the tropics used for centuries as a source of jute based fibers ... rope, burlap cloth, bags, twine, etc. Kenaf has a long history as a traditional backyard fiber crop in Africa and Asia.
Kenaf is extremely environmentally friendly with minimal requirements for agricultural chemicals. Kenaf is richer in cellulose than wood. The product potential for using kenaf seems unlimited. Kenaf gives manufacturers a choice between making products with traditional wood or using an annual crop base for fiber that does not endanger or deplete our forests and environment.
Kenaf is planted and grown very close together and given the right moisture, nutrients and plenty of sunlight stalks can reach heights of 12 feet or more in about 180 days. The dry weight yield when harvested ranges between four and seven tons per acre. Kenaf is best grown in the warmer areas of the temperate zones ... such as the southern tier of the US cotton belt like the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
The stalks are cut full length during the fall. The dry kenaf stalk is composed of two distinct fibers... bast (bark) fiber & core. Bast fiber ... long jute like fibers making up about 35 percent of the plant weight. Core ... short, balsa wood like fibers making up the woody core of the stalk and representing about 65 percent of the plant weight.
Fibers are used in two basic forms ... whole stalk and separated/bast fiber and core portions. Whole stalks are generally shredded to make a variety of products, such as newsprint. The bast fiber and core are separated by chopping the stalk, which then goes through a unique separation process. Core and bast fibers are used in a wide range of products ... interior car parts, absorbents to clean up oil spills, soil-less potting mixes, animal bedding and extruded composite lumber like K~Decking.
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Kenaf Industries of South Texas L.P.
Route 2, #50 Kenaf Road
Raymondville, Texas 78580
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