The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY JUNE 12, 1889. THE FLAX INDUSTRY.
Reliable news is beginning to reach the colony as to the causes of tho great advance m the price of JNew Zealand flax m the London market. Little more than a year ago £20 or £22 a ton was about the normal price ; now £81 to £82 ■is realised for medium quality, while very fine lots are selling as high aB £37, and still higher prices have been obtained m the meantime. Iho enhancement of values is undoubtedly due primarily to the failure of the sisal crop, Which made it an easy matter for American specnlators to corner that prod not and the comparatively email yield of Manilla. The attention of cordage manufacturers was then directed to New Zealand flax, and it was coon found |hat for nearly every purpose it was an effective substitute for other kinds of hemp. This led the ring, m defence of itß interests m sisal and Manilla, to adopt vigorous measures with regard to the New Zealand product. All the available stock m London and all floating parcels that could be purchased was bought up, and endeavors wore made to secure the whole output for enc uiunths ahead. This sent prices up with a bound, and thefquestiou now is Will they remain up? It appears that up to the end of April most of the sales were to representatives of the American ring. So long as this organisation continues to govern the market the price will remain high, but the value of the product is not now entirely dependent upon these speculators. Manufacturers have become acquainted with the good qualities of the fibre, aud have found that it can be used advantageously for binder twine, being very suitable for the purpose and much cheaper than Manilla. They ore conso quently buying it m large quantities, nnd next harvest may see twine mado m America from flew Zealand flax ex ton aivoly used ia the land of its growth. Shrewd business men believe that it tho prices keep high until September they will remain so, as at that period of the year American manufacturers bejgin to lay m their supplies against the harvest of 1890. During the harvest months, and for some little time before and after, the demand slackens. Some fairly well-informed people predicted on these grounds, that when June came round there would be a collapse m prices and the trade would be killed, but though there has been some giving way m prices, thoro ia as yet nothing indicating a collapse, oven though the heaviest supplies ever known are now being flooded upon tho London market. There is, therefore, every prospect of this new induotry— -for new it is m its appliances and magnitude — continuing to be profitable so long as properly conducted, This leads to a '^ord of warning to those who have embarked m * llle Ju d Ql3tr y without praotioal experience* Oom";> intß Bre be j n £ m ? de at Home of tbe careless C" * w Perfeot dressing of a groat deal of tho flax Z?* arriving, and this has had a bad effect upon the markot. Borne Canterbury flax has boon found defective m this respect, but on tho other hand it is pleasing to know that among the brands which are selected with confidence by buyers, and for whiah tbo highest prices are paid, arc one or two drcßsed m this province. Flax-dressing requires a great amount of knowledge ot tho trade, and the most unremitting care. If these bo applied to the work tho mill-owner will reap his reward, for an undoubted authority states that " tho demand will continue so long as we produce a good article, and such will command a fair and payable price. It W not likely, that flax will evor again reach the low prices that ruled a short time ago.