AmeriFlax is the trade organization that represents North Dakota flax producers. The organization is funded by flax check-off dollars from the North Dakota Oilseed Council. Our purpose is to increase the use and sale of U.S.-grown flax and by-products in domestic and foreign markets. AmeriFlax guides programs on public relations, advertising, nutrition research, market research and consumer and industrial education.
Some market firms have advised selling a quarter to a third of your 2018 production at prices of $10 per bushel as cash prices have ticked higher this summer. Traders do note, though, that there is no reason for flax prices to go down.
Forecasts for U.S. production are down significantly from past years as flax acres have taken a back seat to other crops. Total planted acreage in 2018 was forecast at 168,000 acres in USDA’s June 30 Acreage Report, just over half of last year’s acres. However, in reviewing the September Farm Service Agency Crop Acreage Data, https://www.fsa.usda.gov/news-room/efoia/electronic-reading-room/frequently-requested-information/crop-acreage-data/index, North Dakota flax acres came in at just over 150,000, which is 40,000 acres higher than the June 30 USDA estimate.
This recent FSA report indicates total U.S. flax acreage at 208,000. Given normal acreage abandonment, if yields average 22 bushels per acre, this will result in total production of 4.5 million bushels, 18 percent higher than last year’s drought impacted production, but half the production from 2016. Actual yields will not be known until USDA publishes its Annual Crop Production Report in January. Those actual numbers will be posted on this website when published.
In Canada, Stats Canada estimates planted acres of 856,800. This will result in 19.4 million bushels, down 11 percent from last year’s 21.8 million bushels. This is below trade expectations following a revision lower in planted acres. This estimate may increase as much of Canadian flax was grown in areas that received good moisture this season.
Decreased North American production has been price supportive, resulting in prices in this region higher than the rest of the world. Marketers do note that this does not indicate a topping in the flax market, rather an opportunity to sell a portion of this year’s production at a level that has met resistance in recent years.
Two statistical reporting agencies in Canada differ in their estimate of flax carryout levels for this year’s crop. In its August 17th Outlook for Principal Field Crops Report, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) reported ending stocks to be 85,000 mt. More recently, Stats Canada reported ending stocks will likely be just 67,000 mt, 21% lower than AAFC’s estimate! This ending stock level is considered very tight.
During the recent spring board meeting for AmeriFlax, the AmeriFlax board has reviewed and determined
the following research projects for the 2018 growing year. In 2017, research allocations were increased and those projects with an agronomic focus were weighted higher in selection. Below you will find a brief description and the author of each project. To best utilize the flax checkoff dollars in North Dakota, the board believes that these projects will have the biggest impact for growers in the state and greatest financial benefit. AmeriFlax also tries to balance the geographic locations of the projects within the state.
“Insect Pollinator Effect on Flax Yield” by Mike Ostlie of the Carrington Research Center $11,100
Pollinator plantings are being encouraged as part of some government conservation programs as well as being promoted as good environmental stewardship for some land-uses. This study is looking to identify the role of insect pollinators on flax yield to see if there could be a synergy between crop production and pollinator habitat. Flax yield and quality will be the primary evaluation for this study. The main treatment to compare yield and oil content between plots in which bee pollinators are able to visit, and plots in which pollinators are excluded. Pollinators will also be identified to further understand which populations of bees are most important to flax. If insects are contributing a sizable portion to flax productivity, it stands to reason that enhancing surrounding habitat for pollinator success would lead to more economic stability for flax producers. This study will further focus on any yield and quality differences to be translated directly into economic loss or gain, based on the imposed treatments.
“Influence of Harvest Management Strategies on Flax Yield and Quality” by Blaine Schatz of the Carrington Research Center $8,660
Continuing ongoing research that was initiated in 2017, the primary objective of this project is to determine how the different approaches farmers may utilize for harvesting a flax crop and how it might affect the ultimate seed yield and associated oil content a quality of that crop. Currently, as producers anticipate the harvest operation, they will follow a practice of either windrowing (swathing) the crop or will apply an herbicide desiccant at physiological maturity. Physiological maturity in any crop is the growth stage when that crop has achieved maximum dry matter deposition in the seed. Both windrowing and the application of a desiccant at physiological maturity, should permit seed yield and oil content/quality to be optimized. Using a multispectral camera mounted on an unmanned aerial system can help to assess boll color and maturity. In practice, flax producers will initiate the harvest operation based on their determination that the crop has reached physiological maturity. Crop condition factors, along with the challenges in assessing the brown boll state, could result in windrowing or desiccation prior to actual physiological maturity. In theory, if flax is terminated by either windrowing or desiccation before physiological maturity, the seed yield would be reduced and oil content or quality would be impacted. This project will provide information that will clarify whether flax harvest strategies have an influence on seed yield, oil content and oil quality. Further information will be gathered on the effectiveness of different herbicide desiccants that producers may select as a harvesting aid. Aerial imagery will be used to determine any opportunities for remote sensing management aid.
“Flax Breeding for Increasing Yield and Oil Per Acre” by Mukhlesur Rahman, Plant Sciences, NDSU $15,000
Continuing on the research completed by Dr. James Hammond, this project continues to determine and look at new flax genetic lines. New crosses are made each year and progeny is constantly moved through the “breeding pipeline.” This project will include traditional breeding activities. The identification of improved flax breeding lines that are candidates for variety release and best suited for North Dakota/northern great plains. Both brown and gold-seeded lines are being developed which look at being most acceptable to processors and end-user and most viable to producers. Based on agronomic performance, current materials will be identified using replicated yield trials from multiple locations across North Dakota. Quality, yield and disease resistance will be of greatest priority in determination.
“Flax Variety Trials” by Eric Eriksmoen, NDSU Research Center, Minot $3000
For support of ongoing flax variety trials that are composed of 15 varieties and experimental lines grown in ND at six NDSU Research Extension Centers across the state. Also included will be an organic trial as well as an irrigated trial. Data generated from these trials will provide information and varietal comparisons of agronomic, seed quality and seed yields to support variety development and recommendations.
“Flaxseed Protein Isolate as Alternative Protein for New Food Applications: Influence of Isolation Processing on Functional Properties of Flaxseed Protein Isolate” by Jiajia Rao, Plant Sciences, NDSU $12,210
Based on the world demand for protein sources due to population growth, flaxseed protein will be evaluated for protein isolation in food application. The functional properties of thermal stability, solubility, emulsification and foaming will be evaluated for applications in food sources. Only a few studies have been done historically. There is a general lack of knowledge on the US flaxseed crops (flaxseed protein) through the development of high flaxseed protein food as in physicochemical properties of flaxseed protein isolates and under testing conditions. Therefore, the primary objective of this research is to promote the US flaxseed crops with flaxseed protein through the development of high flaxseed protein food. In that context, the aim of this project is to gain fundamental understanding of how the protein extraction processing and protein isolation techniques impact the physicochemical and functional properties as compared those commonly already used in the market.
“Impacts of Flax on Female and Male Reproductive Traits When Supplemented Prior to Breeding in Sheep”
(Year 2) by C.S. Schauer, NDSU Hettinger Research Extension Center $21,954
This proposed research will evaluate the effect of flaxseed on conception rate in commercial range ewes. The diets will be balanced for fatty acids. The hypothesis is that an increase in conception rate and lambing percentages in ewes fed flaxseed compared to that of the control. Additionally, evaluation of the effect of flaxseed on the morphology and concentration of the sperm in rams. It is expected to increase the concentration and overall improvement of sperm morphology as compared to the control. Successful pregnancies are the foundation of profitability for the sheep industry and its producers. This research will attempt to increase the fertility of rams and to increase ovulation rate and fetal vitality of ewes. If successful, this data will suggest flaxseed as the feedstuff of choice to use in preparation of rams for the breeding season and in flushing ewes during the pre-breeding season. Producers expect to see increases in first time mating conception and increase in lamb crop if the trial proves successful. North Dakota has over 52,000 head of breeding sheep that may be impacted by this project. For the 52,000 ewes, it requires over 2500 head of rams to initiate pregnancy. A feeling protocol utilizing flax, either as a supplemental grain or incorporated into a free choice block, would improve pregnancy rate in ewes and improved reproductive efficiency. This in turn, increases market demand for locally produced flax seed.