Flax is a plant that grows for a single season and is world-renowned for the quality of fibre it produces which is known as linen. Humanity has used linen longer than any other fibre. Flax can grow in a range of conditions although the most favourable conditions are cool and damp regions. To obtain the fibres, the farmer can harvest the flax after the production of seeds or before. Fibre that is obtained before the formation of grains is usually of very high quality although the farmer has to buy seeds for the next growing season. Harvesting flax is often a laborious process with little mechanization to ensure the quality of the fibers. Canada produced the most flax globally at around 872,500 tons in 2014.
Countries Exporting the Most Flax Yarn
Flax in China goes back a long time in the nation's history with evidence proving that the Chinese cultivated domestic flax for over 2,000 years. China is home to the world's largest linen manufacturing plant which is situated in Harbin. Approximately 289 square miles of land in China is used for growing flax. China exports more yarn than any other nation on earth with their exports valued at roughly $219 million. China accounts for nearly 56% of the global flax exports. Despite being the largest exporter of flax, in 2014 China was the third largest global producer of flax at approximately 387,000 tons. In China, most of the flax used to provide fibre grows in Heilongjiang.
Italy is the second largest global exporter of flax yarn with their exports valued at approximately $43.1 million. In 2017 Italy produced about 15.8 million meters squared of flax fibres an increase from the previous year's production of roughly 5.33 million square miles. From 2013 to 2016 the volume of flax produced in Italy declined considerably from a high of 7.98 million square miles in 2013. One of the most well-known companies that deal with flax yarn in Italy is the Milan Fabrics SRL.
Tunisia ranks 74th among global economies and third in the export of flax yarn. Tunisia's flax yarn exports earn the nation about $20.6 million. The growing of flax in Tunisia was immensely popular from 1948 to 1950 because of the high prices paid for the crop. The decline in the prices caused a decrease in the national flax output.
Lithuania is the world's fourth largest exporter of flax yarn with their exports valued at $17.7 million. Flax has had a presence in Lithuania spanning numerous generations and is commonly mentioned in Lithuanian poetry and folk songs. During peak production, nearly 83 square miles of land was utilized for the growth of flax. Lithuanian companies export their flax yarn to several countries such as France and Japan.
Rise of Synthetic Fibers
All around the world, synthetic fibres are replacing natural fibres as they offer a myriad of benefits. When making synthetic fibres, the qualities required can be perfected in the laboratories before mass production unlike with natural fibres where people have to rely on the plant's inherent attributes. Synthetic fibres are also much stronger than natural fibres. The rise of synthetic fibres has significantly contributed to the global decline of natural fibres.