Re: Kenaf vs. wood | Letters to the Editor | Indy Week
Pin It

Re: Kenaf vs. wood 

Your recent article "Kenaf: Paper without the wood" (June 16), reprinted from EarthTalk, was misleading. There is no doubt that kenaf is an interesting plant with some useful characteristics. In the 1950s, the USDA identified kenaf as the most promising of all the non-wood plant alternatives for papermaking. Yet not a single paper mill in the U.S. uses kenaf to make paper, and only one mill in the world uses it sporadically. Why? The answer is not due to "entrenched timber companies... (...who employ many Washington lobbyists)."

Numerous universities, including N.C. State, and several commercial paper companies have studied kenaf extensively, and it simply does not compare well with pine trees economically or environmentally. Kenaf is a dicot, and only 30 percent of the plant can be used for paper. The woody xylem must be separated out, requiring additional processing, energy and cost. As an annual, kenaf production requires yearly tilling of the soil, planting the seeds, watering and fertilizer, and often herbicides and pesticides. Grown as a monoculture, kenaf is susceptible to root knot nematode infestation. Since paper mills have to produce year-round and kenaf is harvested only once a year, huge quantities must be grown, baled and stored to provide fiber for the mill, requiring storage facilities and more energy and costs.

Trees for pulp and paper are grown on plantations, freeing native forests from harvesting for these products. Trees can be harvested year-round. Much of the carbon captured by trees stays in their roots, which return carbon and other nutrients to the soil. A pine plantation sequesters carbon, produces oxygen, holds water, and can provide wildlife habitat and even recreation for people.

Thus it is the economic and environmental challenges of kenaf that make it unsuitable for papermaking, challenges that were downplayed in your article.

Dr. Robert D. Brown, Dean
NCSU College of Natural Resources, Raleigh

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Letters to the Editor



Twitter Activity

Comments

Indy writes hit piece on a small business. Small business fails to launch. Indy acts like theyre 12 and throws …

by eldergawd on It’s Our Fault The Lakewood and Baby Scratch Closed (And Other Things Our Readers Told Us) (Letters to the Editor)

In the end, I guess the joke's on me. Victoria Bouloubasis was so much a part of the Durham community …

by David Hewitt 1 on It’s Our Fault The Lakewood and Baby Scratch Closed (And Other Things Our Readers Told Us) (Letters to the Editor)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Indy writes hit piece on a small business. Small business fails to launch. Indy acts like theyre 12 and throws …

by eldergawd on It’s Our Fault The Lakewood and Baby Scratch Closed (And Other Things Our Readers Told Us) (Letters to the Editor)

In the end, I guess the joke's on me. Victoria Bouloubasis was so much a part of the Durham community …

by David Hewitt 1 on It’s Our Fault The Lakewood and Baby Scratch Closed (And Other Things Our Readers Told Us) (Letters to the Editor)

Of course, Victoria Bouloubasis did not single-handedly bring about the closing of The Lakewood in a year's time. Her rant …

by David Hewitt 1 on It’s Our Fault The Lakewood and Baby Scratch Closed (And Other Things Our Readers Told Us) (Letters to the Editor)

Andrew Magowan, that's why we clarified the headline. But headlines in print and online are always different because they work …

by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on It’s Our Fault The Lakewood and Baby Scratch Closed (And Other Things Our Readers Told Us) (Letters to the Editor)

The crime in that area, please? Won't anyone address that factor? I doubt it. …

by Barbara 2 on It’s Our Fault The Lakewood and Baby Scratch Closed (And Other Things Our Readers Told Us) (Letters to the Editor)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation