SEEDS - WHERE GROWN AND HOW HANDLED: HEMP & FLAX
Pubdate: 1902 Source: 1901 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture Author: Lyster H. Dewey, Assistant Botanist, Bureau of Plant Industry Pages: 250-251
Hemp seed is raised in Kentucky, Missouri, and eastern Kansas, most of it being, however, sold as bird seed. When hemp is to be grown for seed it is planted in hills 42 to 48 inches apart, and is cultivated like corn. It is sometimes "topped" to make it spread and produce more seed. After the male plants have shed their pollen they are cut out. The seed is thrashed with a flail in a wagon box or any other convenient place, or beaten out over sheets of cloth spread on the ground. Much seed is also produced by plants grown for the fiber. This is known as "lint" seed, and is light and inferior in quality. It is not used for seed purposes except in years of short crops, when the heaviest of the lint seed is cleaned out to be sold for seed. Growers commonly prefer a small dark-colored seed.
Small quantities of seed are annually imported from China, France, and Italy. The seed from China is mostly received through missionaries in small packets, and is highly prized. The first year it is sown for seed purposes exclusively, and does not at first yield as good fiber as the American plant. The Chinese variety rapidly becomes acclimated, and the seeds of the second and third generations produce plants with fiber of the best quality. The occasional importation of the Chinese seed is necessary to keep up the quality of the American hemp, which tends to deteriorate.
Flax seed is produced in several Northwestern States, but it is mostly used for crushing. The usual practice of farmers is to save out enough seed for the following spring's sowing. Such seed is often selected by the fanning mill, or the common run of the market seed may be used. The seed grown in the North and sold on the Chicago market for crushing produces a plant with inferior fiber, but some farmers use their own seed rather than pay the extra price for imported seed. Seed from flax grown for fiber in Michigan is thrashed and used for seeding, but little selection is practiced, and the plants degenerate. To save this seed the flax plants are pulled, tied in bundles about 4 inches in diameter, and stood in shocks like wheat until dry. The seed is then thrashed by passing the seed ends between smooth rollers, which crush the capsules and partly break them off. Other machinery is used to complete the thrashing, and the seed is cleaned with a fanning mill. The best fiber is produced from plants grown one or two generations in this country from seed imported from Riga, Russia.