VALUABLE WOEK DONE
A great, deal of very valuable. work for the industry. has been accomplished by the Phormium Committee of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
The programme of investigation has consisted of:—(1) Selection and breeding work conducted by Dr. J. S. Yeates at Mossey Agricultural College. (2) Chemical investigations on bleaching of fibre treatment by Dr. «T. S. Maclaurin; and (3) [investigations abroad at the Impevi'al Institute, Plymouth Cordage Co., and the Bureau of Standards into the utilisation of flax fibre in industry. Ko less than 250 strains are represented in the fans; at present planted on the area at the college farm, where very satisfactory growth has been made, and the number of these has' been increased by a valuable collection of Maori varieties, selected many years ago in the Taranaki district. One acre planted, in fans of a single good variety is growing satisfactorily. The first seedlings grown are now about two years old. These are from pod by pod planting of seed from fans in the college collection, and the plants themselves yield valuable information as to the breeding behaviour of the strains_ selected, and will give some idea regarding inherited characteristics. None of the twenty strains grown in the first year has been found to breed true, but from these-seedlings true breeding strains of good quality will be selected. In the hybrid seedlings an eudeavour has been made to combine the disease resistant and excellent fibre qualities of one strain with the heavy cropping powers of another. Success has ■ attended the crossing of several excellent varieties, which, crossed with the yellow leaf resistant (Seifert's superior), have yielded some thousands of seedlings which will be useful in further investigations.
Yellow leaf disease is also attacked by the application of manures, and a total of some 5 acres has been set apart for this work. The search is still continuing for strains of flax which, show a special resistance to yellow leaf, while Mr. Meadows has been engaged in the isolation of fungi and bacteria from disease-affected plants in order to ascertain' the cause of the trouble.
So far in this work no specific organism causing the disease has been'isolated.
At the present time some Ixh1 xh acres are under, flax at the experimental area at the college, and it is proposed to extend this by a further 3 acres, which will be planted out during the present year.
Dr. Maclaurin has provided a report of a number of experiments wherein chemical bleaches were used for treating fibre. The estimated costs involved ranged from 16s to Sis per ton. Further work is now beinij done with a view to gaining additional information regarding suitable chemical bleaching agents.
Several consignments of flax have been dispatched overseas, for the purpose of arranging strength and manufacturing tests. The Bureau of Standards has, manufactured from New Zealand phormium fibre some .samples: of paper showing distinctly good qualities.
The strength tests carried out at the Imperial Institute, in conjunction with the British Admiralty, have shown that New Zealand phormium fibre possesses good powers of endurance when exposed to sea water conditions, and compares in this respect very favourably, with other vegetable fibres.
The committee has investigated a number of problems connected with the establishment of phbrmium plantations, and has' examined a large number of improved methods for processing fibres which have been brought to its notice. '
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FLAX RESEARCH, Evening Post, Volume CX, Issue 71, 20 September 1930
FLAX RESEARCH Evening Post, Volume CX, Issue 71, 20 September 1930
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