, Volume 57-58, Issue 1, pp 75-84

The effect of fermentation (retting) time and harvest time on kudzu (Pueraria lobata) fiber strength

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The noncommercial kudzu plant has been growing wild in the southern United States since the 1930s. In this article, the kudzu fibrous vine is investigated for possible economic applications. The feasibility of removing the fibers by microbial retting is investigated as a low-cost method for recovery of these fibers. The harvest season, vine diameter, and the natural retting time are the three main variables investigated to determine the optimal fiber tensile strength. To extract these light yellow, unidirectional, and multicellular kudzu fibers, retting using a culture screened from a naturally occurring mixed culture was investigated. Late fall, winter, and spring retted fibers were subjected to tensile strength tests. The kudzu fibers were harvested from the wild in both Nashville, TN and Muscle Shoals, AL.