Flax production seen poised for modest gains

CNS Canada –– Canada’s flaxseed production is expected to exceed last year’s totals — a rare occurrence after last season’s bumper harvest for most crops.

“It sounds like we lost a little bit of acres (due to flooding) but they’re still holding onto a pretty good forecast,” said Will Hill, president of the Flax Council of Canada.

Last week’s production estimates by Statistics Canada predicted Canada would produce 908,000 tonnes of flaxseed in 2014-15 — slightly above trade guesses by industry watchers, who pegged production closer to 850,000 tonnes.

In 2013-14, just 712,000 tonnes of flax were harvested, so Hill is hopeful StatsCan’s projection holds true to form.

“I think maybe the surprise is they’re penciling in 24 bushels an acre as yields,” he said, noting StatsCan’s forecast is also a bit higher than what most participants anticipated.

Rainfall over the weekend in southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba has some crop-watchers on edge. They say most crops could use warm, sunny days between now and harvest.

Flax should be OK regardless, Hill said. “It’s hard to kill a (flax) crop with too much moisture.”

Hill added he’s pleasantly surprised with how flax has handled weather challenges thus far, but said the true impact of any water damage isn’t known. “We’ll know more in a few weeks.”

Prices for flax have generally stayed at a similar level since spring, but could be on the move soon, according to an analyst.

Paul Martens of Prairie Flax Products near Portage la Prairie, Man. explained elevators have now dropped their price as they prepare for other commodities to come in.

However, he’s optimistic about market opportunities for the crop in the fall.

“I think the demand has always been steady for flax, there always seems to be more exports,” he said.

According to Prairie Ag Hotwire, the spot price for flax Thursday was $12-$13 a bushel, compared to $11.50-$12 on March 11.

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


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