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Bamboo Biz To Boom In Alabama
The start of bamboo farming in southwestern Alabama promises to lead to a business boom in the area. As growers begin to plant and harvest bamboo, the company behind the “new” crop, Resource Fiber, will be ready to put it to use.

    “Our mission is to create a bamboo industry in the U.S. Alabama has the ideal soil and climate to grow it,” says Ann Knight, Resource Fiber. “We are also setting up manufacturing in southwest Alabama.”

    Knight and her husband, David, were early importers of bamboo flooring to the U.S. from China. An invite from Alabama gave them the idea to set up shop there.

    “We made our first planting of bamboo 2 years ago,” says Ann. “Combined, we have about 20,000 plants growing in our 100-acre nursery.”

    The Moso variety is planted as a 4 to 6- ft. tall culm (jointed stem) with a 10-in. dia. root mass and a density of about 109 plants per acre. It grows 2 ft. per day and reaches a height of 80 ft. with diameters of 6 to 8 in.

The rubro variety is planted as cuttings at a density of 222 per acre. It will reach heights of 60 ft. with a 3-in. dia.

    Once the bamboo trunks are harvested, new shoots develop from the root masses. Root masses will be contained with the use of a subsoiler in a 20-ft. buffer area twice a year.

    “Moso bamboo is considered ready for initial harvest about 10 years after planting, with successive harvests about every 4 years after,” explains David. “Rubro is ready for harvest about 3 years after establishing it in the field.”

    The company has purchased a 4,000-acre farm where they will plant the initial bamboo groves and are building their first full-scale manufacturing plant.

    “We plan to move starters from the nursery to our fields in the fall of 2018 and begin providing plants to third party farmers in 2021,” says David.

    While bamboo processing equipment is fairly standard, the Knights are developing and patenting harvest equipment. It is designed to do initial processing in the field, leaving waste materials to decompose.

    “We plan to contract with growers in the area to produce bamboo for us while we develop markets for the finished products,” says Ann. “Planned products include railroad ties, truck trailer decking and other industrial products from the Moso and biocomposites from the Rubro. Biocomposites are in demand as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics.”

    The Knights aren’t waiting for their bamboo to grow. They are importing bamboo from Colombia for use in their prototype factory.

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, ResourceFiber, 1831 29th Ave. South, Suite 200, Homewood, Ala. 35209 (ph 205 747-2832; dknight@resource-fiber.com; www.resource-fiber.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #2