Jute is a type of plant fiber used to make common items such as rope, twine, chair coverings, curtains, sacks, hessian cloth, carpets, and even the backing used on linoleum. This is accomplished by spinning the fiber into a coarse thread. Despite the fact that jute tends to be rough in texture, fine threads of it are sometimes used to create imitation silk. In addition, it is increasingly being looked at as an alternative source for making paper, rather than cutting down trees for pulp.
The thread created from jute is quite strong, yet it is among the cheapest of natural fibers available. It also has exceptional insulating properties, low thermal conductivity, and antistatic characteristics. Nonetheless, synthetic materials are replacing it in many applications, because they are still less costly to create and more efficient to use. This is partly because jute has a tendency to become brittle and to yellow in sunlight. It also tends to lose its strength when wet and can become infested with microbes when used in humid regions.
There are several applications for which jute is still used instead of synthetic fibers. These applications are mostly limited to those that require the use of a material capable of biodegrading. Pots for plants that are planted directly into the ground with the plant, for example, are often made of this material. Jute cloth is also used in landscaping projects, in order to prevent erosion while still permitting natural vegetation to grow.
Jute is also considered to be a possible alternative to wood. This is because its stem contains a woody inner core. Taking just four to six months to grow to maturity, it can be harvested much more quickly than trees. Many hope to be able to use jute in order to slow down or prevent deforestation.
The majority of the jute used today is grown in the Ganges delta. This is because the plant prefers climates that are both warm and humid, with temperature ranging from 68° to 104°F (20° to 40°C) and a relative humidity of 70-80%. It also requires about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of rainfall per week. China is the next largest producer.