The Sisal Plant

The sisal plant has a 7-10 year life-span (longer in Mexico where growth is slower) and is usually cut first after 2-3 years and then at 6-12 month intervals. A typical plant will produce 200-250 commercially usable leaves in its life-time (hybrid varieties up to 400-450 leaves) and each leaf contains an average of around 1000 fibres.

The fibre element, which accounts for only about 4% of the plant by weight, is extracted by a process known as decortication.

In East Africa, where sisal is produced on an estate basis, the leaves are in the main transported to a central decortication plant after which the fibre is dried, brushed and baled - for export or for use in the domestic mills. In Brazil it is mainly grown by small-holders and the fibre is extracted by teams using portable raspadors.

East African sisal, being washed and decorticated, is considered to be superior in quality to Brazilian sisal (although the latter is more than adequate for the manufacture of agricultural twines and general cordage and is used domestically in craft paper production) and, in normal times, commands a significant price premium on the world market.

Sisal Information

A Brief History

The Plant

Uses of Sisal

Sisal Grading