Hemp And Flax
In the early ages of the world, mankind is supposed to have worn very
little or no clothing. Then leaves and the inner bark of trees were
fashioned into a protection from the weather. These flimsy garments were
later replaced by skins and furs. As man advanced in knowledge, he
learned how to twist wool and hairs into threads and to weave these into
durable garments. Still later, perhaps, he discovered that some plants
conceal under their outer bark soft, tough fibers that can be changed
into excellent cloth. Flax and hemp were doubtless among the first
plants to furnish this fiber.
=Flax.= Among the fiber crops of the world, flax ranks next to cotton.
It is the material from which is woven the linen for sheets, towels,
tablecloths, shirts, collars, dresses, and a host of other articles.
Fortunately for man, flax will thrive in many countries and in many
climates. The fiber from which these useful articles are made, unlike
cotton fiber, does not come from the fruit, but from the stem. It is the
soft, silky lining of the bark which lies between the woody outside and
the pith cells of the stem.
The Old World engages largely in flax culture and flax manufacture, but
in our country flax is grown principally for its seed. From the seeds we
make linseed oil, linseed-oil cake, and linseed meal.
Flax grows best on deep, loamy soils, but also makes a profitable growth
on clay soils. With sufficient fertilizing material it can be grown on
sandy lands. Nitrogen is especially needed by this plant and should be
liberally supplied. To meet this demand for nitrogen, it pays to plant a
leguminous crop immediately before flax.
After a mellow seed-bed has been made ready and after the weather is
fairly warm, sow, if a seed crop is desired, at the rate of from two to
three pecks an acre. A good seed crop will not be harvested if the
plants are too thick. On the other hand, if a fiber crop is to be
raised, it is desirable to plant more thickly, so that the stalks may
not branch, but run up into a single stem. From a bushel to two bushels
of seed is in this case used to an acre. Flax requires care and work
from start to finish.
When the seeds are full and plump the flax is ready for harvesting. In
America a binder is generally used for cutting the stalks. Our average
yield of flax is from eight to fifteen bushels an acre.
=Hemp.= Like flax, hemp adapts itself wonderfully to many countries and
many climates. However, in America most of our hemp is grown in
Hemp needs soil rich enough to give the young plants a very rapid growth
in their early days so that they may form long fibers. To give this crop
abundant nitrogen without great cost, it should be grown in a rotation
which includes one of the legumes. Rich, well-drained bottom-lands
produce the largest yields of hemp, but uplands which have been heavily
manured make profitable yields.
The ground for hemp is prepared as for other grain crops. The seed is
generally broadcasted for a fiber crop and then harrowed in. No
cultivation is required after seeding.
If hemp is grown for seed, it is best to plant with a drill so that the
crop may be cultivated. The stalks after being cut are put in shocks
until they are dry. Then the seeds are threshed. Large amounts of hemp
seed are sold for caged birds and for poultry; it is also used for
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