Flax prices, demand remain strong

(Laura Rance photo)

CNS Canada — Flax prices in Canada look strong in a year with acreage and export demand both high, according to the Flax Council of Canada.

“I think relative to the other commodities (flax prices are) quite favourable,” council president Will Hill said. “Just in talking with producers, they’re pretty happy with the price spread of flax relative to other commodities. Demand seems to be good still, we’re moving flax to all locations.”

Flax bids in Saskatchewan are topping out at $14.25 per bushel for nearby delivery and at $12 for the new crop, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data. That compares with canola bids in the $9-$10 area for both old- and new-crop.

Demand has recently picked up in China and the other two main markets, the U.S. and Europe, remain strong in their demand, Hill said.

“We’re a little bit more balanced than we were a few years ago where everything was (in) Europe… I think all markets are showing pretty good export demand.”

Statistics Canada forecast the flax crop in Canada at about 1.7 million acres, with the majority in Saskatchewan.

That flax acreage in Canada would be the highest since 2007, but given the wet soil conditions in some areas, StatsCan’s estimated acreage may not be reached.

“Anecdotally we’re pretty wet in southwest Manitoba and southeast Saskatchewan, and there’s a lot of flax acres that generally go in there,” said Hill.

However, recent losses in soybean acreage could lend a hand to any lost or damaged flax acres, he said.

“In some areas we’ve lost some soybean acres just because the season got late, and that usually favours flax so we might have a bit of a balance there between the two,” he said.

“It’s too early to make a prediction away from the StatsCan number but if we were 100,000 acres or so shy of that 1.7 million, that wouldn’t surprise me just because of the wet weather.”

A late season favours flax because it stands up to the fall weather better than other crops, Hill said.

— Marney Blunt writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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