Flax comes from the blue-flowered plant crop grown mainly in the cool, northern climate of the western Canadian prairies. Flax is a self-pollinated crop widely adapted to temperate climates of the world. The scientific name for flax is Linum usitatissimum L. Usitatissimum literally means ‘most useful’. Flax has many uses ranging from industrial, to food and feed purposes.
Canadian flax is sought-after in world markets for its high seed quality. Production in a northern country like Canada increases the alpha linolenic fatty acid (ALA) content and iodine value of the seed. ALA is an essential fatty acid for human nutrition. High iodine value is an important measure of drying capacity which is valued in the manufacture of linoleum, printing inks, paints and stains.
As a food product, flaxseed has beneficial health properties for improved cardiac health and is often included as a component of many food products. In industrial uses, flax straw contains fibres that may be used from making textiles to automobile components. The stem fibre of flax is of considerable interest for the emerging bio-fibre industry. Flax fibre has good strength, is lightweight and is gaining momentum as key ingredient in the manufacturing industry. Flax is also used to produce linseed oil, which can be used in linoleum, paints and other industrial applications.
The acreage of flax on the Prairies varies from 400,000 to 800,000 hectares (one to two million acres). Two main reasons why Canadian farmers choose to include flax in their crop choices:
- Its value in rotations; and
- A crop providing good returns on investment (low input crop).
- Flax is an important crop to break up disease and insect populations common with our cereal and other oilseed crops.
|AC™ Prairie Sapphire||Offers higher yield potential than Bethune in key flax zones and short stature reduces straw management concerns.|
|Topaz||Solid performance with yield and maturity similar to Bethune.|