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A sisal decorticator working in German East Africa (Tanzania) between 1906 and 1918

A decorticator (from Latin: cortex, bark) is a machine for stripping the skin, bark, or rind off nuts, wood, plant stalks, grain, etc., in preparation for further processing.

In 1861, a farmer, named Bernagozzi from Bologna, manufactured a machine called a "scavezzatrice," a decorticator for hemp.[1] A working hemp decorticator from 1890, manufactured in Germany, is preserved in a museum in Bologna.[2] In Italy, the "scavezzatrice" faded in the 1950s because of monopolization from fossil fuel, paper interests, synthetic materials and from other less profitable crops.

Probably hundreds of different decorticators have been developed since 1890.[3] Misconceptions spread about the device includes the suggestion that the first working hemp decorticator was invented in the United States in 1935.[4] In 1916, there were already five different kinds of "machine brakes" for hemp in use in the United States, and still others in Europe.[5]

One of the most discussed decorticators is the Schlichten model. Quoted from Hemp - American History Revisited by Robert Deitch:

Quoted from The Emperor Wears No Clothes - The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant, Marajuana Prohibition & How Hemp can still Save the World! by Jack Herer copyright 1993 Green Planet Company Publishing:

In 1919, George Schlichten received a U.S. patent on his improvements of the decorticator for treating fiber bearing plants.[6] Schlichten failed to find investors for production of his decorticator and died as a broken man in 1923.[7]

In 1943 wrote Lyster Hoxie Dewey:

"Numerous machines has been devised for breaking and scutching hemp and similar fibers but non have been found to be fully satisfactory in actual commercial work in the United States" [8]

There are still companies who produce and sell new decorticators for different crops.[9]