Jute is long soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into yarn. Jute is one of the cheapest natural fibres. Raw jute in the form of bales are processed in jute mills to produce Hessian, sacking, jute yarn, bags and other useful products.
Jute is mainly composed of polysaccharides and lignin but it also contains smaller amount of fats and waxes, pectin, nitrogenous colouring and inorganic matters. As a major composition of jute, the cellulose chain molecule is the basic building unit of cell wall and formed by linear combination of a series of glucose rings. The repeat unit of cellulose molecule is known as ‘cellobiose’ residue, consisting of two glucose residues.
Jute is a vegetable fibre or plant fibre, popularly called as golden fibre due to its colour and cash value. Jute is second only to cotton in world’s production of fibres. Jute is also considered as fiber of future not only due to its biodegradable and eco-friendly nature but also its low cost and strength among all natural fibres.
2. Cultivation of Jute
Jute is primarily a monsoon crop. It grow in warm and humid climate, requires loamy or alluvial soil and standing water. It thrives best where annual rainfall ranges from 150 to 250 cm, temperature from 20°C to 40°C and 70 to 90% relative humidity.
The crop is mainly cultivated in Ganga-Brahmaputra delta and their tributaries. Sowing is done from March to early June depending on species, rainfall and type of land. Seeds are sown by broadcast or dropped in furrows or line using drills. The seed are sown closely to produce unbranched jute plants. Unlike cotton, jute does not require much of fertilizers and pesticides. In early stages, weeding is needed.
The plant matures in four to six months. It is harvested from June to September depending upon month of sowing (early or late). Early harvesting gives low yield, lack strength but white coloured fibre; whereas, late harvesting produces more yield but coarser fibres. For optimum yield and good quality fibres, it is advisable to harvest crop when half of the plants are at fruiting stage.
3. Processing of Jute
Bundlles of leafless stalks of jute, are transported from field to nearest water bodies for extraction of fibre. Stagnant water body such as pond or ditch are used for steeping the bundles. Sometime slow-running water is preferred for steeping the bundles for good Retting as stagnant water spoils the quality of fibres. To extract fibres from woody central part of the jute stem, the following steps are need to followed:
1. Retting 2. Stripping 3. Washing 4. Sun Drying 5. Bailing
Click to Read more about Jute Cultivation
4. Physical Properties of Jute
- Specific gravity: 1.48
- Specific Heat: 0.325
- Bad resiliency, Moderate abrasion resistance, Good dimensional stability
- High water holding capacity
- Low extensibility
5. Chemical Properties of Jute
- Effect of bleach: Not affected by oxidizing or reducing bleaches.
- Effect of Acids & Alkalis: Easily damaged by hot dilute or cold concentrated acids. Resistant to alkalis.
- Resistant to organic solvents.
- Scoured jute has good resistance to microorganisms and insects.
- Burns rapidly.
6. Chemical Composition of Jute
- Cellulose: 53-63%
- Hemicellulose: 22-26%
- Lignin: 11-12%
- Water Soluble: 1.5%
- Fats & Wax: 0.3%
7. Application / Uses of Jute
Jute fiber is a low cost fibre. Rough weaving of raw jute fibres are used for making various fabrics for bagging, packaging and wrapping textiles. Fibers are also used for making rope, twine and matting, and decorative fabrics, woven carpets, curtain, linoleum and oil cloth.