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 development. You can be included on the list to receive Kenaf OnLine if you have an interest in either kenaf, AgroResidues, EcoAgroForestry, sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry or rural agroindustrial development.

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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 of kenaf

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


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 environmental specialist

Kinko's World Headquarters



Mississippi has emerged as the premiere state for the production of kenaf, solely because of the excellent kenaf program at Mississippi State University.

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 1989-1993 Compiled by

Catherine E. Goforth
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Agricultural Economics
Technical Editor

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 University

Edited by Keith H. Remy, Senior Publications Editor. Cover designed by Beth Carter; Graphic Artist. Foreword

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 development.

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 this publication.

Verner G. Hurt, Director

Table of Contents (Each issue will highlight one of the articles listed below):


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

Variety Trials

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 Mississippi locations.


                           Variety Averages

                                        4-year  3-year
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 (Stoneville-Field 16).

Table 2. Average by year of kenaf varietal dry stem yield at Leverette, Mississippi.



                                3-year  2-year
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,
Stoneville, Mississippi.
                                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 Ratio

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, Stoneville, Mississippi.


                                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 there 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 grown in villages and back yards) are grown for rope making and sackcloth production. It is not a new species or an exotic species I am promoting.

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 explosion of kenaf demand in the USA for paper pulp. India has a long history of using kenaf.

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

Mauricio Garcia-Franco

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 being done?

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 their programs?

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 feed.

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 resources.

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 growing kenaf. US yields range from 2 1/2 tons in Minnesota to 15 tons in Texas. 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 the highest 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 project I intend to involve myself with is the raising of several indigenous livestock species. One is a large rodent called the guatusa in Honduras. 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 seeking to 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 work here. 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.

Dr. Carol

End of Issue #2 July 24, 1996

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: 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.

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