Dakota State University -- NDSU Agriculture
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo ND, 58105-5655, Tel: 701-231-7881, Fax: 701-231-7044
Flax Interest and Acreage High
Flax acres will continue to increase in 2001 according to Duane R. Berglund, North Dakota State University Extension agronomist. "Last year there were 536,000 acres planted which was a whopping 38 percent increase over the previous year," says Berglund. "I expect flax acres to increase again this year but not quite as much as in 2000."
The North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service will have a flax crop estimate in their June report. It was not included in the recent March planting intention survey with other major crops. Berglund says flax should be planted early (by May 10) to maximize yield potential and maintain good quality. "Both brown seeded and yellow-seeded Omega flax will be sown in North Dakota this year. Omega is more popular for the food trade and the brown seeded varieties are most popular for the linseed oil extraction process and used for industrial purpose," says Berglund.
Cargill in West Fargo is the primary crushing facility for flax in North Dakota. Cargill officials have indicated they will take both the brown seeded and yellow Omega flaxseed for crushing. However, yellow Omega flaxseed is only accepted at Cargill on a submitted sample basis prior to delivery if the iodine number (alpha linolenic acid content) is adequate for processing into linseed oil for industrial use. Berglund suggests country elevators not mix Omega flax with brown flax. If it is intended for crush at Cargill, then producers should submit a sample to the local elevator for an iodine determination before delivery to the elevator or the Cargill crushing plant.
Farmers planning to grow yellow Omega flax this year might see the best return if they can contract their production with a buyer for the food market. "Usually it will result in a premium price as a quality food flax," notes Berglund. "Prospective Omega growers should purchase or use seed that is very low in brown seed content if at all possible. Adequate seed supplies of Certified and Registered Omega are available from seed producers."
Yields of Omega have been less in the eastern regions of the state, but in the west Omega has been competitive in yield with most brown-seeded flax varieties. For flax variety information refer to NDSU Extension Cir. A-1049. It lists 24 flax varieties, agronomic descriptions and yield performances in regions of North Dakota.
Cathay and Pembina are the two newest brown seeded flax varieties and were released in 1998 according to Berglund. "A fairly large number of seed producers have increased these two varieties in the past two years. Both varieties have performed well in trials and in commercial fields."
Berglund says Cathay is similar to McGregor in days to flower and maturity, but Cathay has a larger seed, heavier test weight and about a 1.8 percent greater oil content. Pembina is about one day earlier in days to flower and maturity, and Pembina also has a heavier test weight than McGregor, along with about 1.1 percent more oil.
Both of these new NDSU varieties are resistant to all known races of North American flax rust and have good tolerance to wilt. "In research tests, early plantings of Cathy out yielded McGregor by 3 percent, but later plantings of Cathay produced significantly lower yields compared to McGregor. In contrast, early plantings of Pembina outperformed McGregor by 1 percent, but late plantings of Pembina outyielded McGregor by 10 percent," says Berglund.
Cathay has performed especially well in central North Dakota and is expected to replace significant acreage of several older varieties, including McGregor. Pembina has performed well in all flax-growing regions of the state.
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