Flax for Seed and Fiber in the United States. Page: 4
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Flax is now grown for seed over a wide area, but the straw is practically
good for nothing, as at present produced, in its tangled, short,
and broken condition, unless for paper, and its demand for paper stock
is not large. Will it not be for the farmer's interest, then, to adopt
new methods, even when growing for seed, to produce a quality of flax
straw that will at the same time be fit for fiber
The object of this bulletin is to tell farmers something of the practice
that is essential to success in growing flax for both seed and fiber.
CAN BOTH SEED AND FIBER BE SAVED
Many old writers affirm that good seed and salable fiber can not be
produced from the same plant, and this statement has been reiterated
time and again, though there are two sides to the question.
Undoubtedly when the flax-fiber industry is fairly established in the
United States there will be three distinct forms of flax culture: First,
the culture of seed only, by present careless methods; second, a more
careful culture with a view to getting a full crop of seed, while producing
a tolerable fiber that will be marketable for certain kinds of
manufacture; and third, a careful, skillful culture for the production
of fine fiber, the seed product being a secondary consideration. This
bulletin has nothing to do with the first form of culture, so but two
forms are to be considered.
The finest flax produced in Europe is grown in Belgium, where the
seed not only is saved but is used in some cases to produce the next
year's crop of flax. The usual practice in that country, as I learned
from the Government experts during my visit to the European flax
centers in 1889, is to import the seed annually, though I found that in
some localities a different custom prevailed, as in the Brabant. Imported
seed (Dutch or Russian) is planted the first year and the seed produced
by this crop is planted the second year, giving, it is claimed, a
better quality of flax than the first year; but for the next, or third,
year's sowing new seed is again secured.
Mr. John Orr Wallace, a Belfast authority, furnished me with this
About the fiber being coarse if the seed is saved, this will not be the case if the
flax straw is pulled before being too ripe and hard. In France and Belgium our
spinners get the finest fiber, and the growers there save the seed.
Here is an extract from the Irish Textile Journal, furnishing added
proof that fiber and seed can be secured in the same plant. The italics
The crop must be grown with a view toward getting from the land the highest
yield of straw that will produce the finest quality of fiber. The sed, which ought to
be a largefactor in profit, should be saved, etc.
In an article in the same journal, relating to experiments in flax culture
in the south of Ireland, this statement occurs: "The measured acre
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United States. Department of Agriculture. Flax for Seed and Fiber in the United States., book, 1895; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6344/m1/4/: accessed July 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.