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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/631

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CULTIVATION OF SISAL IN THE BAHAMAS.

to be weeded, and this process is said to be necessary about twice a year, until the sisal plants attain a height of three or four feet, when weeding is no longer needed. The most troublesome enemy of the planter, in the way of weeds, is the "May-pole," as it grows very rapidly, but the roots are said to die after the third cutting. In about four years the sisal plant produces what are called "ripe leaves"—that is, leaves that are horizontal and large

PSM V38 D631 Clearing the pine yard for sisal near nassau n p.jpg
Clearing the "Pine-yard" for Sisal near Nassau, N. P.

enough to cut. The cares of the cultivator are now about over, and all he has to do is to cut off the leaves as fast as they mature, and manufacture his fiber.

The cultivation of sisal is of such recent introduction into the Bahamas that as yet none of the large plantations have begun to produce to any extent; so for a description of the next stages we will turn to Yucatan, where, as has been said, the industry has been carried on from time immemorial. There the men cut the leaves off close to the trunk, and lay them tip to butt in bundles of fifty, when they are carted to the machines. The cutting of thirty bundles, or fifteen hundred leaves, is considered a good day's work. In order to save the cost of transportation, as the leaves yield but about five per cent of fiber, there is usually a machine to every one hundred acres. The machine now in use consists of a horizontal wheel, on the face of which brass strips are