Kenaf OnLine Newsletter
Kenaf OnLine Newsletter
The Internet Newsletter about kenaf and agroresidues
This is a biweekly OnLine Newsletter about kenaf and agroresidues for=
development. You have been included on the list to receive Kenaf =
OnLine because you have expressed an interest in either kenaf,=20
agroresidues, EcoAgroForestry, sustainable agriculture, sustainable=
forestry or rural agroindustrial development.
Feel free to contribute articles, information and questions.
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newsletter on kenaf happenings as well as How to do it articles, just=
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Volume 1, Number 1 July 15, 1996
Editor and Publisher, Dr. Carol Cross
Kenaf OnlIne (KENAFOL) is a World Wide Web/Internet NetMag focused o=
creating a Sustainable world through kenaf and agroresidues for Rural=
Agroindustrial Centers (RAICs), Village Business Incubators(VBIs) and=
Tropical Cut and Carry Teams (TCCTs). KENAFOL will be developed just=
like any print magazine. You can contribute articles, ask questions =
develop your kenaf expertise at no cost to you.
Issue Number 1 July 1997
1. Japanese visit Grenada=92s paper mill
2. Kenaf as an alternative crop in Arkansas
3. Questions and Answers from Dr. Cross=92s Internet Seminar - Part =
1. Japanese visit Grenada's paper mill
Grenada Mississippi. Executives of major Japanese paper-mill compani=
visited Grenada's Newsprint South yesterday. The purpose of the=20
executives' visit is to study Mississippi pulp and paper opportunitie=
along with Mississippi's newest non-traditional commodity - kenaf.'
Many Japanese paper companies are interested in kenaf because the pap=
industry goal in Japan is to use 10 percent non-wood in their product=
paper and paper products by the year 2000.
This could mean an economic boon for kenaf producers because Japan is=
second only to the United States in the amount of paper produced and=
consumed. According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture a=
Commerce, this equates to over $100 million in potential for kenaf.
Kenaf is made in China, Thailand and Mississippi. Mississippi leads t=
nation with approximately 3,000 acres of kenaf being grown and proces=
in Tallahatchie County. The processing of kenaf is centered in=20
Kenaf products include: non-wood paper, oil absorbents, plant porting=
media, animal bedding, and grass seed mats, amount other things. One=
person has tagged kenaf the "ginzu knife" for agriculture.
Kenaf has the potential to be a major enterprise for not only=20
Mississippi, but much of the southern United States. One official sai=
Thailand and China do not have as much modern machinery as American=
farmers and that this makes doing business with the Untied States a v=
The Japanese executives are expected to be in Mississippi through May=
and to hear Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell Jr. speak at a=
luncheon. Funding for the kenaf trade mission is through the USDA's=
Foreign Agriculture Service with the Southern United States Trade=
Association serving as the generic activity coordinator.
=46rom the Grenada Mississippi paper, May 28, 1996.
2. KENAF - An Alternative Crop for Arkansas
KENAF - An Alternative Crop for Arkansas -Arkansas Cooperative Extens=
Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) is a warm season annual closely relate=
to cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.=
Kenaf can be used as a domestic supply of cordage fiber in the=20
manufacture of=09rope, twine, carpet backing and burlap. Research, in=
early 1940s, focused on -=09the development of high-yielding=20
anthracnose-resistant varieties, cultural practices and harvesting=
During the 1950s, kenaf was identified as a promising fiber source fo=
paper pulp. Kenaf fibers have been processed into high quality newspr=
and bond paper.
Although kenaf is usually considered a fiber crop, research indicates=
that it has high protein content and, therefore, is a potential=20
livestock feed. Crude protein in kenaf leaves ranged from 21 to 34=
percent, stalk crude protein ranged from 10 to 12 percent, and=20
whole-plant crude protein ranged from 16 to 23 percent.
Kenaf can be ensilaged effectively, and it has satisfactory=20
digestibility with a high percentage of digestible protein.=20
Digestibility of dry matter and crude proteins in kenaf feeds ranged=
=66rom 53 to 58 percent, and 59 to 71 percent, respectively Kenaf mea=
used as a supplement in a rice ration for sheep, compared favorably w=
a ration containing alfalfa meal.
In addition to the use of kenaf for cordage, paper pulp and livestock=
feed researchers have investigated its use as poultry litter and anim=
bedding, bulking agent for sewage sludge composting and as a potting=
soil amendment. Additional products include automobile dashboards,=
carpet padding, corrugated medium, as a "substitute for fiberglass an=
other synthetic fibers," building materials (particle boards of vario=
densities, thicknesses, and fire and insect resistances), absorbents,=
textiles and as fibers in extraction molded plastics.
Kenaf varieties can be divided into two major groups based on their=
photosensitivity - photosensitive and photoinsensitive. Typically,=
photosensitive varieties are preferred for the production of fiber in=
the United States. Two -of these varieties, Everglades 41 and=20
IEverglades 71, were developed by USDA researchers to extend the=20
vegetative growing season before the plants initiate flowering.=20
Photosensitive cultivars initiate flowering when daylengths decrease =
approximately 12.5 h; mid September in southern states. In=20
photosensitive varieties, the initiation of flowering causes a reduct=
in vegetative growth. =09Because of late floral initiation and=20
inability to produce mature seed prior to a killing frost, seed=20
production in the United States for these varieties is limited to=
southern Florida, the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and southernmo=
Photoinsensitive (often referred to as day neutral) varieties can=
initiate flowering and produce mature seed before a killing frost nor=
of latitude 300. Photoinsensitive varieties, such as Guatemala 4,=
Guatemala 45, Guatemala 48, Guatemala 51 and Cuba 2032, can initiate=
flowering 100 days after planting (DAP), and before the daylength=
decreases to 12.5 h. Photoinsensitive varieties can, therefore, be=
planted during May or early June in central United States and still h=
ample time to produce mature seed. The earlier production of mature s=
for photoinsensitive varieties greatly expands the potential seed=
As a livestock feed, kenaf is usually harvested at an earlier growth=
stage than as a fiber crop; 60 to 90 DAP compared with 120 to 150 DAP=
During a shorter growing season, photoinsensitive varieties can produ=
dry matter yields equivalent to photosensitive varieties, while using=
seed that can be produced further north and in a larger geographic ar=
Harvesting and Pelletizing
The evaluation of field equipment for harvesting kenaf continues to b=
an important aspect of commercialization. It has been demonstrated th=
standard forage cutting, chopping and baling equipment can be used fo=
harvesting kenaf as either a forage or fiber crop. Kenaf can be baled=
into small square or large round bales. Sugar cane harvesters, with a=
without modification, have also been successfully used to harvest ken=
In cotton growing regions, cotton modules have been used for field-si=
storage of chopped kenaf. Kenaf can also be pelleted for use as a fib=
or forage crop. Pelletizing kenaf increased its density by at least 3=
percent, therefore, reducing both transportation and storage costs. I=
may be economically advantageous to use available commercial harvesti=
and processing equipment rather than investing in the development and=
production of kenaf specific equipment. Appropriate harvesting and=
pelletizing equipment is readily available throughout the United Stat=
Mobile in the field harvester/separators are being developed, which w=
cut and then separate the bast and core fibers in the field.
When harvesting kenaf for fiber use, the moisture content and the=
equipment availability are important considerations. Kenaf can be=
harvested for fiber when it is dead, due to a killing frost or=20
herbicides, or when it is still growing. The dry standing kenaf can b=
cut and then chopped, baled or transported as full length stalks. If =
kenaf drying and defoliation process is dependent on a killing frost,=
the harvesting date will vary on the area of the state where the crop=
growing and the time required for the kenaf to dry unless artificial=
drying is used. Much of the land which could be planted to kenaf does=
not lend itself to late harvest because of weather conditions and soi=
Actively growing kenaf can be cut and then allowed to dry in the fiel=
0nce dried, the kenaf can then be chopped, baled or transported as fu=
length stalks. The availability of in the field harvester/separators=
will add to the harvesting options.
Kenaf is a crop which is normally harvested in late fall or winter, a=
only once during the year. This presents some unique situations as fa=
as supply and storage are concerned.
Additional markets for kenaf as a fiber crop and as a finished produc=
need to be developed. The development of kenaf as a fiber crop depend=
on several conditions. What happens in the forest industry in the woo=
and pulp product areas will be a major factor in the development of=
kenaf into a major industry The development of large stable markets f=
the raw and finished products must occur before farmers and industry=
will be willing to invest time and capital on a large scale.
The development of any new industry takes time, capital, scientific=
research, product research and development, and eventually stable=
markets. In the kenaf industry part of this development has already=
happened, but much is yet to be done.
The United States acceptance of kenaf as a major commercial crop will=
strengthened as additional uses for kenaf are established. The increa=
production, processing and product development work being conducted=
within private industry state universities and USDA laboratories is=
encouraging and suggests a bright future for the establishment of ken=
as a commercial crop within the United States. However, for kenaf to=
become a viable alternative agricultural e crop, stable markets must =
established which will provide farmers with an economic return equal =
or surpassing what they now receive for a given crop.
For kenaf to effectively replace products now on the market, it will=
have to be of equal or better quality than those to be replaced, be=
readily available to the industry and end users, be easily harvested =
h have potential to be economically produced.
Additional agricultural research for Arkansas - should include diseas=
control and variety adaptation, along with the evaluation of harvest=
systems and the economics appropriate for Arkansas production areas a=
Bagby M.O., R.L. Cunningham, F.G. Touzinsky G.E. Hamerstrand, E.L.=
Curtis, and B.T. Hofreiter. 1979. Kenaf thermomechanical pulp in=20
newsprint. ( TAPPI/NPFP Committee Progr. Rpt 10. Atlanta, GA.
Clark, T.K, R.L. Cunningham, and I.A. Wolff. 1971. A search for new=
fiber crops. TAPPI 54:(1)63-65.
Clark, T.F. and I.A. Wolff. 1969. A search for new fiber crops, XI.=
Compositional characteristics of Illinois kenaf at several population=
densities and maturities. TAPPI 52:2606- 2116.
Dempsey J.M. 1975. Fiber Crops. The University Presses of Florida,=
Dryer, J.F. 1967. Kenaf seed varieties. p. 44-46. Proc. First Confere=
on Kenaf for Pulp. Gainesville, FL.
Fuller, M.J. and J.C. Dollar. 1994. An economic analysis of kenaf=
separation. p. 21-22. In: CE. Goforth, M.J. Fuller, and H. Remy (eds.=
A summary of kenaf production and product development research, Miss.=
State Univ. Bul. 1011.
Goforth, C.E. 1994. The evaluation of kenaf as an oil sorbent. p. 25.=
In: C.E. Goforth, M.J. Fuller, and H. Remy (eds.). A summary of kenaf=
production and product development research. Miss. State Univ. Bul.=
Killinger, G.B. 1969. Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L. a multi-use crop.=
Agron. J. 61:734-736.
Kugler, D.E. 1988. Non-wood fiber crops: commercialization of kenaf f=
newsprint. p. 289-292. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.). Advances =
new crops. Timber Press, Portland,0R.
Laiche, A.J. and S.E. Newman, 1994. Kenaf core as a container media=
component for woody landscape plants and greenhouse bedding plants. p=
30. In: C.E. Goforth, M.J. Fuller, and H. Remy (eds.). A summary of=
kenaf production and product development research. Miss. State Univ.=
Nieschlag, H.J., G.H. Nelson, I.A. Wolff, and R.E. Perdue, Jr. 1960. =
search for new fiber crops. TAPPI 43:193-201.
Ramaswamy, G.N. and C.R. Boyd. 1994. Kenaf as a textile fiber:=20
processing, fiber quality and product development. p. 31-33. In: C.E.=
Goforth, M.J. Fuller, and H. Remy (eds.). A summary of kenaf producti=
and product development research. Miss. State Univ. Bul. 1011.
Scott, A. 1982. Kenaf seed production: 1981-82. p. 60-63. Rio Farms,=
Inc. Biennial Report for l980-1981 Monte Alto, Texas.
Scott, A.W. Jr. and C.S. Taylor. 1988. Economics of kenaf production =
the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. p. 292-297. In: J. Janick and J=
Simon (eds.). Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Port land, OR.
Suriyajantratong, W., R.E. Tucker, R.E. Sigafus and G.E. Mitchell, Jr=
1973. Kenaf and rice straw for sheep. J. Anim. Sci. 37:1251-1254.
Swingle, R.S., A.R. Urias, J.C.Doyle, and R.L. Voigt. 1978. Chemical=
composition of kenaf forage and its digestibility by lambs and in vit=
J. Anim. Sci. 46:1346-1350.
Tilmon, H.D., R. Taylor, and G. Malone. 1988. Kenaf: an alternative c=
for Delaware. p. 301-302. In: Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.). Advances =
new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR=20
Webber, C.L. III. 1990a. Kenaf production with sewage sludge and=20
fertilizer. p. 15. Proc. Second Annual International Kenaf Assoc. Con=
Tulsa, OK. (abstr.)
Webber, C.L. III. 1990b. The effects of kenaf cultivars and harvest=
dates on plant growth, protein content, and dry matter yields. p.=
147-152. Proc. First Annual International Conf. on New Industrial Cro=
and Products. Riverside, CA.
Webber, C.L. III and R.E. Bledsoe. 1993. Kenaf: production, harvestin=
and products. p. 416-421. In: Janick, J. and Simon, J.E. (eds.). New=
Crops. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York, N.Y.
White, G.A., D.G. Cummins, E.L. whiteley W.T. Fike, J.K. Greig, J.A.=
Martin, G.B. Killinger, J.J. Higgins, and T.F. Clark. 1970. Cultural =
harvesting methods for kenaf. USDA Prod. Res. Report 113. Washington,=
Wilson, ED., T.E. Summers, J.F. Joyner, D.W. Fishler, and C.C. Seale.=
1965. 'Everglades 41' and 'Everglades 71', two new varieties of kenaf=
(Hibiscus cannabinus L.) for the fiber and seed. Florida Agr. Exp. St=
Wing, J. M. 1967. Ensilability acceptability and digestibility of ken=
Questions and Answers from Dr. Cross=92s Internet Seminar - Part 1
---------- Forwarded message ----------
=46rom: Horst Doelle <[log in to unmask]>
Dear Dr. Cross,
I have read with great interest your kenaf article. It all sounds gre=
for feedlots and large scale as is the case in the USA or Europe. I h=
some difficulties to see the economics for small farmer and landholde=
in the tropics, especially in SEAsia and the Pacific, where there are=
***A note on seed yields-
Dr. Crane in Cuba obtained 1500 lb. of seed per acres or approximatel=
1,680 kgs per hectare. This was from a planting made late in the=
season. He pointed out that yields of over a ton per acre could be=
produced by planting earlier in the season.
A. Kenaf can be grown on small plots, cut and cut again for high=
quality livestock feed. AT Mississippi State University, they are=
experimenting with cutting it every 30 days. Indeed, we are developi=
a special program called the Kenaf Cut and Carry program for developi=
country farmers who want to grow small plots of kenaf to use for=20
livestock feed. We are producing right now, a profusely illustrated=
booklet, showing how this system will be used. In addition to the=
English language booklet, we are planning a Spanish edition, as well =
a farmer self training activities booklet and cassette tapes showi=
and describing the methods. Indeed, we will be holding a special on=
day workshop =93Kenaf Cut and Carry Forage Systems For Small Farmers=
here in August, 1996 to share and learn methods of using kenaf for=
small scale farmers.. We will have sessions on cutting kenaf with a=
machete, chopping it with a chaff cutter from India we are marketing,=
making baled silage, combining kenaf with AgroResidues, building=
stockade and shade structures to hold animals. the booklet will cont=
explicit details on how to feed the animals. We are developing this=
system for goats, sheep and cattle.
Kenaf has been known from Taiwan research at the Taiwan Agricultural=
Research Institute to produce between 38 and 82 tons per hectare in=
Taiwan. Of course this is the result of allowing the plant to grow f=
its full 150 days, then harvesting the whole stalk. We will be makin=
succession cuttings for more days in the tropics. There is no estim=
of the total amount to be cut versus one harvest. But my feeling are=
that the more times you harvest a hay crop, the more yield you obtai=
Of course it will depend on the cultivar planted, the skills of the=
operator, soil fertility, the amount of rainfall, the soil types and=
other production factors.
Q. Secondly, land is getting scarcer in these heavily populated=20
countries and thus your kenaf production has to compete with food cro=
such as rice, cassava etc. At present we are teaching the farmers to =
all the surplus starch crops for protein enrichment using fungi such =
Rhizopus etc., which contain protein contents of 40-50%. Your kenaf n=
only competes with rice and cassava, but also with soybean, a very=
profitable crop. How competitive is your kenaf to these food crops ?=
A. The difference between kenaf and soybeans is different in the kin=
of products that can be developed from them. Soybeans can be made in=
soy ink, diesel fuel, plastics, paper coatings, livestock feed, human=
food, frankly most of the items that petroleum can be used for. Th=
problems with soybeans is that they will not grow in many areas, they=
require inoculum and their meal, while rich in protein, does cause so=
problems in some monogastric animals. And the productivity per acre =
not nearly as high. Kenaf is already preadapted to tropical countrie=
requires about 1/4 the work input of cotton, and produces a cut and c=
again product. Kenaf has it multiple uses that are just becoming=
Next to livestock feed, most likely the most important use of kenaf w=
be for NONWOOD paper to reduce dwindling forest and stop the cutting =
tropical rainforest. It is difficult for small holders to grown and=
process soybeans for livestock feed, because it requires machinery. =
kenaf grower can simply grow his product, cut it with a machete, dry=
it, bag it and feed it to his animals at his liberty. Or he can make=
baled silage from it, a much more succulent, tasty feed. or he can cu=
it every 30 days and feed it as is to his livestock fresh chopped. =
each time you cut it, it comes back again. Soybeans cannot do this.
Q. Thirdly, soil infertility is an ever increasing problem in the=
countries because of the enormous rainfalls. Fertilizing is becoming =
very big problem because again of the enormous rainfalls washing the
minerals into the lagoons and changing marine life. Does your kenaf
residue replenish the soil with minerals like legumes or algae can do=
Soil infertility is a very big problem and will become much bigger.=
A. There is no problem here. One of the major product areas being=
promoted for kenaf in the USA is its uses as a soiless media for grow=
bedding plants. Here the ground kenaf serves as a carrier for nitro=
for bedding plants. However, in order to use kenaf extensively for=
outdoor land soil fertility regeneration, composting it would be of=
value since freshly cut mature kenaf may deprive the soil of needed=
short term nitrogen ( this is old kenaf with low nitrogen content. =
Young high protein kenaf, with little lignin, mostly leaves, with no=
fiber in the succulent stalk part would possibly not cause this effec=
Another of the major uses expected for kenaf in the USA is its use =
filler in composting manure. Manure disposal is a problem here in th=
USA Kenaf core=92s lightness will enhance the composting process. O=
course, if you want to grow high protein kenaf for soil fertility, it=
would be an excellent fertilizer. Of course, kenaf erosion mats, mad=
of nonwoven kenaf fabric, impregnated with seeds are used more and mo=
by highway construction firms and highway departments to replant high=
cuts, mined land and for steep hills for reseeding.
Q. I also understand that kenaf (sorry I am not a botanist or=20
agriculturist) has considerable ligniocellulose and cellulose compone=
Can one separate the protein-rich parts from the lignocellulose- and=
cellulose-rich parts easily. The latter parts could become an excelle=
feed for mushroom production.=20
A. I have not researched this area. I suspect since we are dealing=
with young, succulent materials, there would be minimal lignocellulos=
However, there has been some preliminary research on using used anima=
bedding ( up to 25% kenaf can be used in the bedding) and then using =
for mushroom growth. I can obtain a copy of a report from the=20
University of Delaware if there is any interest
I will leave it by these few questions for now and look forward to yo=
Dr. Horst W.Doelle
Director, MIRCEN-Biotechnology Brisbane and the Pacific Regional Netw=
Email: [log in to unmask]
=3D=3D=3D=3D=3Dend of seminar questions
PLEASE SEND IN YOUR QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT EDITION.
Dr. Carol Cross, Editor and publisher