Jute is a long, soft, shiny plant fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus.
Jute is one of the cheapest natural fibres, and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. Jute fibres are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin. Jute is a rainy season crop, growing best in warm, humid climates.
Worlds finest Jute is produced in Bengal Delta Plain, mostly in Bangladesh and India.China also produces large number of Jute while Pakistan grows relatively small number.
To grow jute, farmers scatter the seeds on cultivated soil. When the plants are about 15-20 cm tall, they are thinned out. About four months after planting, harvesting begins. The plants are usually harvested after they flower, but before the flowers go to seed. The stalks are cut off close to the ground. The stalks are tied into bundles and retted (soaked) in water for about 20 days. This process softens the tissues and permits the fibres to be separated. The fibres are then stripped from the stalks in long strands and washed in clear, running water. Then they are hung up or spread on thatched roofs to dry. After 2-3 days of drying, the fibres are tied into bundles.Jute is graded (rated) according to its colour, strength, and fibre length. The fibres are off-white to brown, and 1-4 m long. Jute is pressed into bales for shipment to manufacturers. Jute is used chiefly to make cloth for wrapping bales of raw cotton, and to make sacks and coarse cloth.
The fibres are also woven into curtains, chair coverings, carpets, hessian cloth, and backing for linoleum. However, jute is being replaced by synthetic materials for many of these uses, though the importance of biodegradation in some situations where artificial fibres are unsuitable leaves some uses open to jute. Examples of such uses include containers for planting young trees which can be planted directly with the container without disturbing the roots, and land restoration where jute cloth prevents erosion occurring while natural vegetation becomes established.
The fibres are used alone or blended with other types of fibres to make twine and rope. Jute butts, the coarse ends of the plants, are used to make inexpensive cloth. Conversely, very fine threads of jute can be separated out and made into imitation silk. Jute fibres can also be used to make paper, and with increasing concern over forest destruction for the wood pulp used to make most paper, the importance of jute for this purpose may increase.
Some features of Jute
- Jute is 100% bio-degradable & recyclable and thus environment friendly.
- Jute is a natural fibre with golden & silky shine, and hence nicknamed as The Golden Fibre.
- Jute is the cheapest vegetable fibre procured from bast of the Jute plant and it falls into the category of bast fibres (other bast fibres are Flax, Hemp, Ramie, etc.).
- Jute is the second most important vegetable fibre after cotton. Jute has high tensile strength, and low extensibility.
- Jute is one of the most versatile natural fibres that has been used in raw materials for packaging, textiles, non-textile, and agricultural sectors.
- Jute stem has very high volume of cellulose that can be procured within 4-6 months, and hence it also can save the forest and meet cellulose and wood requirement of the world.
- The best varieties of Jute are Bangla Tosha - Corchorus olitorius (Golden shine) and Bangla White - Corchorus capsularis (Whitish Shine), and Mesta or Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) is another species with fibre similar to Jute with medium quality.
- Raw Jute and Jute goods are interpreted as Burlap, Industrial Hemp, and Kenaf in some parts of the world.
- The best source of Jute in the world is the Bengal Delta Plain, which is occupied by Bangladesh and India.