Jute, the fibre of the two closely-related species Corchorus capsularis and C. olitorius, tall annual herbaceous plants belonging to the order Tiliaoeae, and native to Bengal, which is also almost the sole seat of their cultivation. They are grown in a hot climate with an abundant rainfall and in rich, well-manured alluvial soil, and the stalks are cut between August and October, preferably when the plants are in flower. The cost of cultivation ranges from 3s. to 52s. per acre, and the produce from 5 cwts. to 30 cwts. The fibre is obtained by a retting process, as in the case of flax and hemp (q.v.), and is 6, 7, or even 14 feet long, the finest being yellowish white, and having a silky lustre. It is more woody than either flax or hemp, and, though readily dyed, cannot easily be bleached to a pure white. It is exported from Calcutta in bales of 400 lbs. each, nine-tenths of that exported in the raw state coming to British ports. The exportation has grown from 18 tons valued at £62 in 1829, and nearly 1,200 tons in 1832, to over 180,000 tons in 1869, and over 527,000 tons in 1889. Jute is manufactured by the Hindoos into string, cord, paper, gunny-cloth and gunny-bags. The coarse sacking known as gunny-cloth was formerly made by hand; but there are now twenty-seven jute-mills with power-looms in Bengal, and they worked up 187,700 tons of jute in 1890, the exportation of gunny-cloth now amounting to 15,000,000 yards. Gunny-bags were only first exported in 1883, but nearly 100,000,000 are now annually exported, chiefly to the United States and Australia. They are used for wool-packs and to hold salt, corn, and other seeds, and, when worn out, for paper-making. The failure of the supply of Russian hemp and flax during the Crimean War (1854-56), and of American cotton during the Civil War of 1861-63, established the manufacture of jute at Dundee, which is still the chief centre, though there are also factories at Glasgow, Aberdeen, and
Barrow-in-Furness, and in Ireland. There are now 120 jute factories in the United Kingdom, with 12,000 power-looms, and employing over 40,000 hands. Jute manufactures to the value of over £2,665,000 were exported from the United Kingdom in 1890. This large manufacture has been mainly rendered possible by a process of softening the jute with oil and water. Otherwise it is spun in much the same manner as flax. It is used for sacking, tarpaulins, backing for floor-cloth, carpets, and rugs; as an adulterant of silk, and as an imitation hair in stage-wigs.