Prairie flax acreage could rise 20 per cent this year

CNS Canada –– The positive sentiment toward planting flax seems to be growing across the Prairies, according to the president of the Flax Council of Canada, who adds there’s likely to be a big acreage increase this year.

“From what I heard at CropSphere in Saskatoon, it sounds like people are thinking that pricing of flax will be good relative to the other commodities, so we’re looking forward to an increase in acreage,” he said. “It’s really all over the map, but I think we’ll see it at least 20 per cent up from last year.”

According to Statistics Canada, 1.035 million acres of flax were planted in 2013. If area does increase by roughly 20 per cent, acreage in 2014 would sit at 1.242 million acres. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada recently projected flax seeding at 1.236 million acres.

Hill said the success seen by recent flax crops, along with lower input costs, have farmers looking at it as a strong alternative crop.

“I think growers have had really good success with flax the last couple of years, and I think people are always looking at alternatives,” he said. “It’s a lower input crop than others, so I think the farmers are quite excited about it. Plus, the whole crop moved last year. We took carryout down fairly low last year, so that’s a plus.”

Some of the biggest growth came in Alberta, where acreage and production nearly doubled in 2013-14 from a year earlier.

“Alberta doesn’t have quite the same alternatives as the Manitoban farmer does in terms of soybeans, corn and some of the other crops. They need an alternative oilseed in their rotations to canola,” Hill said, when describing why acreage was up in this year and possibly next year.

“Plus, they’re close to the marketplace in China and they have a freight advantage there. I think all those things there are coming together to where the farmer in Alberta is viewing flax as a good alternative. I think we’ll see them grow more next year.”

As of Monday, the Johnston’s Daily grain price report has new-crop flax bids valued at $10.50 to $10.75 per bushel.

– Brandon Logan writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

Related story:
Flax growers’ subsidy for Triffid tests soon ending, Jan. 25, 2014

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