Maguey Production and Its Uses

Maguey grows into a rosette leaves which droops to a horizontal position when it matures. A rosette usually consists of 20 to 50 leaves. The leaves which crowd on the stem are fleshy, thick and persistent for several years. The thin grayish leaves end in terminal spines bearing marginal prickles. Each leaf is 5 ft. long while its width ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches and has an average weight of 200 g.

Principal Uses

  • Carpets, Rugs, Doormats, Bags, Ropes, Twine, Cords, Sacks, Papers
  • Alcohol/Liquor

Varieties

  • Agave fourcroydes henequen
  • Agave angutifolia
  • Agave amaiensis
  • Yucatan

Cultural Management

  • Soil Requirement – Fertile soil is not a requisite. Thus, soil which seems unproductive like rocky soil is still suitable for maguey production. It is also adapted to undulating or hilly areas and even grows along the seashore.
  • Climatic Requirement – Maguey is not difficult plant to cultivate. It endures diversified climatic conditions, and does not require abundant or evenly distributed rainfall.
  • Method of Propagation – Bulbils and suckers are commonly used for maguey propagation. However, suckers of 40-50 cm long are perfect than bulbils. Mature leaves from suckers give more fibers. More leaves are produced by the suckers during the first 3 years after picking.
  • Planting Season – Planting may be done at the start of the rainy season.
  • Distance Planting – The planting materials are spaced at 1 m x 1.5 m apart in a single row and 2 m x 2.5 m apart in double rows.
  • Rate of Fertilization – Fertilizer need not be applied. However, its application will greatly improve the growth of the plant, 6-9-12 N-P-K fertilizer mixture 200 to 300 kilos per hectare per year is recommended.

Pest Control – Maguey plant shows strong resistance to drought, pests and diseases. Thus, regular attention is unnecessary except in weeding activites.

Maturity and Harvesting

The first harvesting of Maguey must take place when the age of the leaves droops to a horizontal position with an angle of 45°C. During this period, the fiber of the leaves is already strong. Subsequent harvest can be scheduled after 3 to 4 months. Harvestable leaves range from 10-30 leaves/plant/year.

Methods of Extraction

Retting- the bundled leaves weighing 7 to 7.5 kg are soaked in water of either 15 to 30 days. When retting in salt water, the leaves are split into halves and bundled. Note that fresh water retting is slower than salt water retting.

Decortification – the leaves are simply fed directly into the decorticator.

Yield Per Hectare

  • Retting – yield of maguey ranges from 2185 to 3140 / kg / hectare / year. Fiber recovery ranges from 4% to 5%.
  • Decortification – estimated yield per hectare per year ranges from 1300 to 1700 kg of fiber. Fiber recovery ranges from 2% to 2.5%

Classification and Grading

Maguey Retted

  1. MR-1 Maguey One
  2. MR-2 Maguey Two
  3. MR-3 Maguey Three
  4. MR-Y MagueyDamage
  5. MR-0 Maguey String
  6. MR-T MagueyTow

Decorticated Maguey

  1. MD-1 Maguey Deco One
  2. MD-2 Maguey Deco Two
  3. MD-X Maguey Deco Residual

Read The Process of Making Mezcal

For more information, contact:

Fiber Industry Development Authority
Asiatrust Bank Annex Building
1424 Quezon Ave., Quezon City
Tel: 913-27-89 Fax: 913-27-90
Web: www.fida.da.gov.ph

Jean F. Paet – President
Cervantes Ilocos Sur Women Development Center Inc.
Maker of Maguey Slippers, Bags, Hats & Novelties
Rosario, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur
Mobile: 0918-5250900

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