KENAF - Agro Residues: Bioenergy Newsletter Issue # 2
Kenaf OnLine Newsletter
The Internet Newsletter about kenaf and AgroResidues
This is a weekly OnLine Newsletter about kenaf and AgroResidues for
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Volume 1, Number 2 July 24, 1996
Editor and Publisher, Dr. Carol Cross
Kenaf OnLine (KENAFOL) is a World Wide Web/Internet NetMag focused on
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 and
develop your kenaf expertise at no cost to you.
Issue Number 2 July 1997
1. Request from list member - info wanted on Environmental performance
2. Mississippi State University kenaf publication
3. Dr. Cross Internet seminar questions II
4. British kenaf export wanted for radio program
1. Environmental performance of kenaf
Eric Werbalowsky firstname.lastname@example.org
Kinkos Earth Fibers is a new line of environmental paper choices
a variety of very attractive papers and stationary products with
unique colors and textures. Tree-free Earth Fibers are made with
low-impact plant fibers such as banana, kenaf, organic cotton, hemp
and straws. Some Earth Fibers papers also contain post-consumer
recycled paper. We believe Earth Fibers are an
environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional paper offerings.
As part of this program we are seeking to develop a better
understanding on the environmental performance of kenaf as a fiber
source for paper making. I am working with Scientific Certification
Systems to evaluate life cycle aspects of the product as well as
specific claims such as chlorine free, etc. Any advice or direction
you could provide on this project would be appreciated.
Eric Werbalowsky ph. 805-652-4638 fax 667-3586
Kinko's World Headquarters
2. MISSISSIPPI STATE KENAF PUBLICATIONS
Mississippi has emerged as the premiere state for the production of
kenaf, solely because of the excellent kenaf program at Mississippi
The publications of Mississippi State are excellent summaries of their
comprehensive kenaf research program. We will be publishing the full
edition of their report, A Summary of Kenaf Production and Product
Development Research 1989-1993 on KENAFOL.
There are other publications available from Mississippi State
University. The next issue of KENAFOL will include a list and the
address where they can be obtained.
A Summary of Kenaf Production and Product Development Research
Catherine E. Goforth
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Agricultural Economics
Marty J. Fuller
Professor and Agricultural Economist
Department of Agricultural Economies
Published by the Office of Agricultural Communications, Division of
Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State
Edited by Keith H. Remy, Senior Publications Editor. Cover designed by
Beth Carter; Graphic Artist.
With the funding aid of the United States Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry
Experiment Station has Focused on developing the potential of kenaf as
an alternative crop. For the past 5 years, MAFES scientists have worked
to improve efficiency in culture, harvesting; storage, transporting, and
marketing, and develop potential uses for kenaf in order to benefit and
promote Mississippi agriculture.
This publication serves as a summary of this research of the Mississippi
Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at Mississippi State
University and several of its outlying branch stations. The topics
discussed range from agronomic research to various aspects of product
The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station is very
proud of the work that has been accomplished on this project and the
commercialization and economic development that have resulted. MAFES has
realized the potential and importance of value-added products in
industrial settings. For this reason, we will continue to strive toward
developing all facets of kenaf production and product development.
On behalf of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment
Station I hope you both enjoy and benefit from the results presented in
Verner G. Hurt, Director
Table of Contents (Each issue will highlight one of the articles listed
Agronomic Research for Kenaf Crop Production in Mississippi
Kenaf Variety by Date of Planting in Mississippi
The Effect of Plant Population on Kenaf Yield
Fertility and Row Spacing for Kenaf Production
Selection and Breeding of Kenaf for Mississippi
Weed Control in Kenaf
Plant-Parasitic Nematodes-Pests of Kenaf
Kenaf Tissue Culture
Desiccation of Kenaf with Roundup
In-field Separation of Kenaf
An Economic Analysis of
Kenaf Separation The Use of Kenaf
as Bedding for Horses and Laboratory Animals
Kenaf for Broiler Litter
The Evaluation of Kenaf as an Oil Sorbent
Kenaf Core as an Enhancer of Bioremediation
Kenaf Core as a Board Raw Material
Kenaf Core as a Container Media Component for
Woody Landscape Plants and Greenhouse Bedding Plants
Kenaf as a Textile Fiber: Processing, Fiber Quality,
and Product Development
Agronomic Research for Kenaf
Crop Production in Mississippi
S.W. Neill and M.E. Kurtz
1989. The availability of kenaf seed was limited, and quality was
suspect as research got underway in 1989. Because of the latitudinal
effect on kenaf growth, midmaturing and late-maturing varieties were
selected for the variety trial. These included both palmatified
(deeply-lobed) and entire-leaf varieties:
Variety/Maturity Leaf Structure
Mid-late C-108 Entire
Mid Cubano Entire
Mid-late Everglades 41 Entire
Mid-late Tainung 1 Palmate
Mid-late Tainung 2 Palmate
Mid-late 45-9X Palmate
Mid-late 78-18-RS-10 Palmate
Mid-late 78-18-GS-10 Palmate
Procurement of seed and adverse weather caused this trial to be planted
late June 21, 1989. A stand was not achieved until the last week of
June. This trial was located at Leverette (near Charleston) in
Tallahatchie County on a Cascilla silt loam soil. The Crop was
terminated by an ear]y freeze October 20, 1989.
1990. There were three locations for variety trials in 1990: Leverette,
Itta Bena (Leflore County), and Grenada (Grenada County). Plantings at
these locations were accomplished by May 16. Variety 78-l8-GS-1O was
dropped because of lack of seed. Additional varieties included:
Variety/Maturity Leaf Structure
Mid-late Everglades 71 Palmate
Mid-late 19 117-2 Palmate
Mid-late 15-2 Palmate
Grenada experienced severe drought conditions during the summer. This is
thought to have reduced yields at that location.
1991. By June 3, 1991, plantings were accomplished at three locations.
two sites at Stoneville and the one at Leverette.
1992. Plantings were limited to the two sites at Stoneville in 1992.
Plantings were accomplished by May 1, but dry conditions delayed
emergence until May 20.
Table 1 shows the combined averages across locations by year and the
3-year and 4-year averages. Kenaf varieties tested were all
photoperiodic, which means that regardless of the date of planting, the
plant will remain vegetative until the daylight period falls below 12
hours and 30 minutes. Therefore, the 1989 trial, with the late planting
date, was short-seasoned and went reproductive prior to attaining its
full vegetative height, resulting in yields lower than the potential.
Table 1. Averages by year of kenaf varietal dry stem yield across
Variety 1989 1990 1991 1992 average average*
---- ---- tons/ acre ------- --------
Tainung 2 3.6 5.87 7.18 4.60 5.31 5.88
Everglades 71 -- 6.20 6.72 4.40 5.77 5.77
15-2 -- 5.55 6.43 4.70 5.56 5.56
19-117-2 -- 5.45 6.63 4.55 5.54 5.54
Tainung 1 4.0 5.90 6.50 4.20 5.15 5.53
Everglades 41 3.9 5.53 6.38 4.50 5.08 5.47
78-18-RS-10 3.5 5.63 6.38 4.35 4.97 5.45
45-9X 3.3 5.70 6.80 3.85 4.91 5.45
Cubano 3.8 4.97 6.73 4.50 5.00 5.40
C-108 3.6 5.30 6.55 3.90 4.84 5.25
*Drop 1989 average due to 120-day growing season (averaging 1990-92).
Table 1 gives an indication of those varieties that produced the higher
yields consistently at the locations.
Tables 2, 3, and 4 present the yield data at Leverette and Stoneville
for the years and are indicative of the yield potential at those areas.
These locations were selected because they reflect three different soil
types - sandy(Leverette), mixed (Stoneville-Field 13), and clay
Table 2. Average by year of kenaf varietal dry stem yield at Leverette,
Variety 1989 1990 1991 average average*
---- ---- tons/ acre -- --------
Tainung 2 3.6 6.5 9.0 6.37 7.75
Everglades 71 3.9 7.4 7.9 6.40 7.65
45-9X 3.3 6.5 7.8 5.87 7.15
78-18-RS-10 3.5 6.0 7.2 5.57 6.60
Tainung 1 4.0 6.5 6.6 5.70 6.55
Cubano 3.8 5.0 7.2 5.33 6.10
Everglades 41 3.9 5.6 6.6 5.37 6.10
C-108 3.6 5.7 6.4 5.23 6.05
19-117-2 -- -- 7.1 -- --
15-2 -- -- 7.6 -- --
*Drop 1989 average due to 120-day growing season (averaging
Table 3. Average by year of kenaf varietal dry stem yield at Field 13,
Variety 1991 1991 1992 average*
---- ---- tons/ acre ---
Tainung 2 6.3 8.1 5.1 6.50
Cubano 7.1 6.7 5.3 6.37
C-108 6.3 8.1 4.3 6.23
Tainung 1 6.4 7.0 5.0 6.13
Everglades 41 6.0 7.6 4.8 6.13
45-9X 6.7 6.8 4.8 6.10
Everglades 71 6.0 7.3 4.8 6.03
78-18-RS-10 6.4 6.1 5.1 5.87
19-117-2 6.7 -- 5.0 5.85
15-2 6.2 -- 5.2 5.70
*Field 13 is a Sharkey clay soil, but not heavy clay.
The evaluations of these 10 varieties should give a commercial producer
an idea as to the yield potential. Other variables that might affect a
producers choice would be availability of planting seed, bast ratio of
the variety, and soil type.
The availability of kenaf planting seed is questionable for some of the
varieties tested; however, there are several commercial ventures
involved in seed production.
Kenaf seed germination in some varieties has been a problem if seeds are
carried for longer than one year. The author recommends germination
tests of seed lots approximately one month prior to planting in order to
adjust seeding rates to ensure adequate stands.
Bast ratios of varieties were studied and are worthy of comment at this
time. Past research has indicated bast ratios are affected by stem
diameter. Stem diameter can be manipulated by row spacing; however, this
could reduce yield and plant density. Drought conditions experienced in
1990 seemed to affect bast ratio. In some fertility trials, differing
rates of fertilizer appeared to influence bast ratios.
There are noted differences in bast ratios among varieties, with the two
Tainung selections producing low ratios and 45-9X producing high ratios.
However, it is the author's opinion that too little is known in this
area to make a recommendation of a variety solely on bast ratio.
Soils are seen to have an influence on kenaf yield (Tables 2, 3,4). The
Leverette location had a silt loam soil with a low cation exchange
capacity (CEC). Stoneville Field 13 was a silty clay soil with a
midrange CEC, and Stoneville Field 16 contained a heavy clay soil with a
high CEC rating. As indicated in the tables, the lower CEC soils
produced almost 2 tons greater yield than soils with the high CEC
ratings and a ton more than the soils with the mid-range CEC. This trend
was also noted among varieties with almost the same graduations. More
work in this area should be done before a specific recommendation of a
variety for a soil type can be made. However, these tables may be used
as a reference in that selection.
Table 4. Average by year of kenaf varietal dry stem yield at Field 16,
Variety 1991 1992 average*
---- tons/ acre ---
19-117-2 6.1 4.1 5.10
Everglades 71 5.7 4.0 4.85
15-2 5.5 4.85
Cubano 5.9 3.7 4.80
Everglades 41 5.3 4.2 4.75
Tainung 2 5.3 4.1 4.70
78-18-RS-10 5.8 3.6 4.70
Tainung 1 6.0 3.4 4.70
C-108 5.4 3.5 4.45
45-9X 5.9 2.9 4.40
*Field 16 is a Sharkey clay soil.
SW. Neill, former Research Technician at the Delta branch Experiment
Stations, Stoneville, is an Environmental Scientist I, YMD Joint Water
Management District. Marigold, MS. M.E. Kurtz is a Plant Physiologist
at the Delta Branch Experiment Station, Stoneville, MS.
3. From Dr. Cross Internet Seminar
David J. Ligda DVM
International Livestock Project Development
Q. Much of my experience with "exotic" forages has
been to watch test plots die or become lunch for some "varmint" long
before there is enough for even a little livestock feeding test. Perhaps
you could tell us a little about the insect/nematode and soil fungi
complex resistance of this particular seed stock? I understand that
have also been some reports about a condition called "powdery
mildew".....with possible mycotoxins?
A. I'll send you a more detailed answer a little later. Let me say
this about kenaf. It is not a temperate plant. It is tropical plant,
that originated in the Sudan and has been domesticated about 6000 years.
It is used all over the world on about over 1,700,000 hectares ( mostly
villages and back yards) are grown for rope making and sackcloth
production. It is not a new species or an exotic species I am
It is new system of utilization for livestock feed. Kenaf is proven
just about everywhere in the tropics from India to Nigeria to present
plans to put a large scale kenaf based pulp mill in Australia.
I am working with a new method of utilizing the old world crop, kenaf.
That means instead of letting it become old, stringy due to the
establishing of the bast fiber in the stalk, we cut it before the fiber
is laid down and use it as a succulent, cut and come again high protein
forage. If you allow it to go to 150 days which is required to get the
fiber out, the remains are unusable because of the core fiber that has
been laid down. When you cut it over and over again, the core is not
laid down and all you get are young tender leaves and succulent young
soft high protein stem.
Kenaf seed for use in the USA is presently being grown in El Salvador,
Guatemala and the Philippines because kenaf seed will only set in South
Florida and extremely south Texas. My group is working to develop the
kenaf Licensee producers program to develop seed sources for the coming
of kenaf demand in the USA for paper pulp. India has a long history of
Kenaf is a tropical plant and we are working to adapt it for use in
temperate areas for short term growth.
Thanks. More later.
From: carol cross
I am not a cattleman, nevertheless I'm following the seminar with great
curiosity. As biologist I have been working more in ecofriendly
biosystems related to aquaculture and that is the reason to my
connection with UNU and ZERI, specifically to projects of Integrated
Biosystems like ZERI-BAG.
I find very interesting the information of your paper on Kenaf, seeing
it as a potential source of biointegration adding great commercial value
to the crops and great nutritional value to the feeds of any integrated
farming system. However, as growing of forage plants is not
one of my strengths I confess having more questions to add than new
information or further comments regarding your paper:
Q1) Being a Colombo-Venezuelan, I would like to know if there is any
Kenaf's seed production program in South America related to the Kenaf
Growers Network (KGN), or being part of the Licensee/producers in
tropical countries growing "EAF Certified Kenaf Seeds," and how it is
A. This is new program so I do not have any producers in your are, but
am looking forward to doing so. I have some contacts in Colombia from a
previous consultancy there who may provide some farmers who would be
interested in growing the seeds. Also am planning a project in Bolivia.
I might note, a kenaf grower from Colombia, Gustavo Perez, presented a
paper on kenaf growing in Colombia to the 2nd International Kenaf
Conference in 1964.
Q2) Many South American countries do have livestock raising development
programs and I wonder if the growing of Kenaf as feed is already part of
A. This new research on the value of kenaf for livestock feed and the
data on date-to-harvest has just recently been made available. Indeed
research is proceeding apace on this here in the USA. Many of the
papers are in press at this time.
We will be having a one day workshop on the Kenaf Cut and Carry Program
in September, 1997 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. During the
WesHemisphere Century conference,
we will have demonstrations of this system as well. In 1997 we are
planning to develop an EcoAgroForestry EAF/RAIC Learning Center in
Honduras will be offering full 6 day seminars on using Kenaf Cut and
Carry to feed goats
and other livestock. We expect to draw agriculturists from all over
Latin America as the courses will be taught in both Spanish and English.
Kenaf is presently being grown commercially in 20 countries for the
production of fibre.
Q3) If not, what other options other than Kenaf exists in the tropics
and how does Kenaf compare to e.g. corn, sorghum grain, beans crops as
There are many options available such a Leucaena, buffel grass, elephant
grass, desmodium, etc. However we are working with kenaf because it is
a tropical crop, it does have potential for small holders as they can
pen up their goats or cows and feed the kenaf in a cut and carry
program. I do not know what returns on investment are in these crops
you mentioned in the tropics but I can share with you the economic data
on kenaf for livestock feed in Oklahoma. Here kenaf may make the farmer
as little as 4 tons per acres in
a dryland system (31 inches of rainfall), yet it was seen as a viable
operation for a livestock farmer to grow kenaf after wheat. Kenaf was
seen to indicate "strong potential benefits".
Of course this is highly mechanized kenaf where the total operating cost
of the kenaf and wheat was US$255 per acre. And the Total fixed cost of
machinery was US$68.And the value of the kenaf forages at $60 per ton
was US$240 per acre. I am sure tropical farmers, using machetes, hand
tools, and small scale equipment can grow kenaf acreage for much less
than $240 per acre. And I am also sure that in the tropics, with it
long growing seasons, lack of worry about planting too soon for spring
frost or having
to stop cutting because fall frosts have come in, in a season they can
probably harvest 10-25 tons of high protein kenaf. The forage value of
which at $60 per ton, would be a suitable use of their time and land
A vital part of the Kenaf Licensee Seed Producers requirements will be
the collecting of data on productivity. Producers who develop higher
yields above a certain level will receive a bonus.
If you will send me budgets for the crops you want to compare kenaf to,
I will look at available kenaf data, perform an analysis and get back to
you with the results.
Q4) You wrote "with greater rainfall, higher production can be expected.
And of course in the tropics, the growing season is much longer" while
Dr. Horst W. Doelle said that "soil infertility is an ever increasing
problem in the tropical countries because of the enormous rainfalls."
This only in the case of humidity, but what about other factors. Which
are the best (optimum) conditions, in soil, temperature, etc. for
growing Kenaf in the tropics, or the other way around, under which
conditions is not
recommended to grow Kenaf in the tropics because low quality of the
product or not economically viability.
A. Hot, humid weather can be expected to accelerate the growth of
kenaf. Kenaf as tall as 20 or more feet are routine in tropical areas.
To quote the USDA booklet on growing kenaf, " The Southeast with its
warm temperatures and abundant moisture is particularly favorable for
kenaf. US yields range from 2 1/2 tons in Minnesota to 15 tons in
Dry matter yields may be more than 20 tons in Southern Florida. We
stress that predicted kenaf yields are for sufficient soil moisture".
The two major constraints in producing 20 feet tall kenaf and getting
yields of 86 tons per hectare in the USA is the short growing season due
to frost killing the plants and the lack of sufficient rainfall.
Irrigation is required here to produce viable yields (in my opinion at
least 6 tons per acre) of kenaf.
Q5) Capibara is the biggest rodent in the world (up to 45 kg) which
inhabits the inundation plains of South America. It is an herbivorous
mammal with meat very well consume in Venezuelan and Colombian markets,
specially during holly
week due to the fish-like taste of its meat. As this animal is important
as livestock I would like to know if there is any study of Kenaf as feed
for this rodent.
A. I would be very much interested in seeing someone develop a research
program on feeding kenaf to Capybaras. As a matter of fact, when we
open the EcoAgroForestry Learning Center in Honduras, one personal
intend to involve myself with is the raising of several indigenous
livestock species. One is a large rodent called the guatusa in
Also I'd like to try raising iguana and the Capybara if I can get a
permit to bring them into the country..
I believe kenaf can serve as an excellent feed for these animals and I
will be running some feeding trials. I already have plans to work with
an ostrich farmer here to perform trial with kenaf and am actively
work local rabbit farmers here.
As of today, I have no data, but I feel it would be very promising.
Q6) Other animal which calls my attention is the rabbit. Last January
during a field trip in Venezuela I visited a man with a quite
interesting integrated system. He grows selected earthworms using as
substrate the mix of chicken and rabbits manure. Then, he obtains two
things, high protein content earthworms to complement the chicken feeds,
and residues he uses as good compost, mixing it with water to make a
fertilizing solution. This liquid is sprayed over a bed of corn seeds
that is above floor. After 2-3 weeks he harvests the tender youth plants
of corn and used them as feed for the rabbits. I wonder if this kind of
aeroponic system can be applied to Kenaf seeds. This may give us two
advantages. First, It will provide us with younger harvest of Kenaf,
which as you say is nutritionally better(for rabbits?), and second,
probably we reduce the purchase of fertilizer while
reducing ecological risks avoiding the "washing of minerals into lagoons
and changing marine life" as Dr. Doelle explained.
A. I would like very much to have the address of the man in Venezuela
you mentioned above. I would like very much to initiate a dialogue,
perhaps supply him with some kenaf seeds and see if we can't work up a
little project to gain information. Frankly why wouldn't hydroponics
Many horse breeder especially grow grass in hydroponics systems so why
not kenaf in an intensive system?
Q) Being Kenaf an species of African origin I wonder if there is any
ecological risk introducing it to new ecosystems in South America. Exist
any studies on ecological impact of introduction of this species in any
other tropical country?
Kenaf was once a large scale crop in El Salvador. There was even a kenaf
fed burlap mill there. Cuba has a many years of success growing kenaf.
Kenaf has been grown in Brazil. Kenaf has been in the Western
Hemisphere for a long time.
Not a problem. Kenaf is Pantropical and is presently being grown as a
small holder crop for making rope on over 1,700,00 hectares.
4. Gaby Fisher
Gabi has a radio program in Great Britain and she is seeking a kenaf
expert to feature on that show. Any subscribers there who might want to
be an expert - email me and I will send you a list of possible questions
that you might suggest to Gabi. Or just contact her directly.
End of Issue #2 July 24, 1996
PLEASE SEND IN YOUR QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT EDITION.
Dr. Carol Cross, Editor and publisher
If you would like information on the Kenaf Growers Network Organization
or any aspect of kenaf production, send an email to Dr. Cross at
Carol Cross, PhD EcoAgroForestry Founder
Email: email@example.com Phone & FAX: 501-367-8736.
2801 Olive, #35A, Suite 113, PO Box 5208, Pine Bluff, AR 71611.
Together we Can Create A Sustainable World Through EcoAgroForestry
(Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Forestry and Rural AgroIndustrial
Development) by growing Kenaf, utilizing AgroResidues, forming
consortiums, & developing Rural AgroIndustrial Centers (RAICs) or
EcoAgroForestry Village Business Incubators(VBI). Join us.