Prairies tell a tale of two flax crops

(Dave Bedard photo)

CNS Canada — A large portion of Canada’s flaxseed crop is still in the field, leaving questions over the size and quality of what will eventually be harvested.

About a third of the flaxseed crop is still left in the field in Saskatchewan, by the estimate of Tom Leier, senior grain buyer with Scoular Special Crops in Regina.

While there is a segment of farmers whose harvests are completely done, others were hit by snow and need an extended period of better weather to resume harvesting.

A hard freeze would also allow farmers to finish harvesting the flax crop, said Leier.

From a quality standpoint, anything that is still out in the field is at risk of downgrades. “The quality in front of this adverse weather was pretty good,” said Leier.

However, the last 40 to 45 per cent will be questionable, especially if anything has to overwinter.

If conditions don’t allow for the harvest to finish, “it will be a long spring for some people,” as producers will need to harvest before they begin seeding, said Leier.

From a pricing standpoint, poor weather has helped flaxseed bids strengthen a little, but not to the same extent as canola.

Leier said the wild card for flax is how much was carried over from the previous year. Statistics Canada estimated ending stocks as of July 31 at 274,000 tonnes, a figure well above the 97,000 tonnes carried over from the previous year.

Planted flaxseed area was down on the year, and StatsCan currently pegs production at 575,800 tonnes, compared to 942,300 in 2015-16.

Flaxseed is currently bid at about $10.50-$10.60 per bushel in Saskatchewan, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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