Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/36

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28
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

if we can produce it at a price low enough to compete with the cheaper grades of the imported India fiber. Rough flax and common hemp might be used in lieu of jute, in bagging manufacture, but the question of competition is still a factor. Sisal hemp, which has been imported to the value of seven million dollars a year, when prices were high, will grow in southern Florida, and the plant has been the subject of exhaustive study and experiment. This plant was first grown in the United States on Indian Key, Florida, about 1836, a few

PSM V54 D036 Pineapple field in florida.jpg
Pineapple Field in Florida

plants having been introduced from Mexico by Dr. Henry Perrine, and from this early attempt at cultivation the species has spread over southern Florida, the remains of former small experimental tracts being found at many points, though uncared for.

The high prices of cordage fibers in 1890 and 1891, brought about by the schemes of certain cordage concerns, called attention to the necessity of producing, if possible, a portion of the supply of these hard fibers within our own borders. In 1891, in response to requests for definite information regarding the growth of the Sisal hemp plant, a preliminary survey of the Key system and Biscayne Bay region of southern Florida was made by the Department of Agriculture, and in the following year an experimental factory was