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Flax

Linen

Flax is bast fibre. Before the invention of cotton gin, which hastened the cheap production of mill-made clothing, flax was greatly demanded for the manufacturing of linen. Cotton being largely available at cheap price most of the linen mills in Europe switched over to cotton. The permanent fall in demand for flax caused a drastic curtailment in flax production in European and American farms. At present most of the flax is produced for seed from which linseed oil, is extracted. The linseed oil is demanded for paints and varnishes.



Conditions of growth. Flax grows well in areas having moderate rainfall distributed evenly during the growing period of plants. Warm and uniform summer temperatures with high humidity are required for the growth of the plant. The soil should be loam or clay loam so as to be able to retain loam moisture. Constant weeding is necessary in order to ensure a better growth of the plant. Like jute it .requires retting. The plants after they are cut are tied in bundles and kept in water for 5 to 15 days. Sometimes they are retted under dew also.



After retting the stems of the plants are dried and fibre is separated from tissue by scutching with knife or machine with revolving blades. These processes demand large supply of cheap labour. Flax for seed is produced in the Pampa districts of Argentina and Uruguay, Dakota, Minnesota, Prairie provinces of Canada, India and Russia. Russia is the leading producer or flax fibre with 67.4% of the world total and Poland with 5.7% of world.

Practically all the flax fibre of the world is produced in Europe. Russia, Poland, France, Belgium, Holland and the Czech Republic are the principal producers. In 1987-88 U.S.S.R. had 1.7 million hectares against world's total of about 1.4 million hectares under flax. Kalinin, Smolensk and Leningrad (now St Petersburg) were the areas of production. Out of world's flax fibre production of 612 thousand metric tons during 1987-88, Soviet Russia produced about 311 thousand metric tons, Poland, France and Belgium produced 52 thousand, 51 thousand and 10 thousand metric tons respectively.

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