Guy Lafond says if you have 300 flax plants per square metre, then your plant stand will not be a limiting factor for yield. The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist made this and other recommendations at Saskatchewan-Flax-Development Commission’s meeting at Crop Week in Saskatoon.
Lafond presented findings from a long-term flax study he led at Indian Head Research Farm. On the plant stand front, he recommends growers choose a seeding rate that provides for at least 300 plants per square metre, or roughly 25 per square foot. In some parts of the Prairies, in particular the eastern Prairies, you should be able to achieve that most years with a seeding rate of 40 pounds per acre. As you move west and north, 60 pounds increase your odds, Lafond says. His general recommendation is for a seeding rate of 60 pounds per acre, which gives you enough padding for significant seedling death — which always occurs to a rather great extent — and still gets you in the range of 300 plants per square metre most years.
Other Lafond recommendations:
Sideband all nutrients in one band. Flax responds more to nitrogen than any other nutrient, but is sensitive to nitrogen in the seed row.
Aim for 90 to 100 pounds of totalN, includingsoil reservesand applied, for a top-yielding crop.
No till is the first step to higher flax yields in Western Canada.
Flax is a good crop to seed last, except in southern Manitoba where seeding earlier is better. In Lafond’s study, flax yieldedbetter in the eastern Prairies, particularly Manitoba, when seeded early. But at Indian Head and Saskatoon, the early-or late-seeding date didn’t seem to make a big difference in yield. At Melfort, later was actually better.
Don’t seed flax on flax stubble or on canola stubble.
It seems that flax yields are enhanced when seeded into tall stubble and, if you have the equipment to do it, when seeded between stubble rows. This is based on early observations. Lafond says this needs more study.
Jay Whetter is the editor of Grainews.