Flax for Consumers
Food Industry
Animal Feed
Producers and Handlers
Industrial Use
Related Links / Related Companies
Site by ComMark

Flax Production in North Dakota

History and Use

Flax (Linum usitatissimum) production goes back to ancient history. Flax remnants were found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland, and ancient Egyptians made fine linens from flax fiber. Flax production moved west across the northern United States and Canada during the 1800s. As settlers moved west, flax was one of the crops produced. North Dakota farmers have grown flax since sod first was broken.

Producers grow two types of flax: seed flax for the oil in its seed and fiber flax for the fiber in its stem. Today producers in the upper Midwest and the Prairie Provinces of Canada grow seed flax. North Dakota is the leading producer of flax for oil and food use in the United States. Flax seed is crushed to produce linseed oil and linseed meal. Linseed oil has many industrial uses; linseed meal is used for livestock feed. The fiber in seed flax stems is used to make fine paper and as tow or padding in upholstered furniture. Cigarette paper is a major flax paper product.

Human consumption of flax seed is increasing rapidly for its high dietary fiber, its omega-3 oils and anti-carcinogenic lignans. Flax seed oil is used as a vegetable oil by some consumers and processors say its use is doubling annually. Whole, (preferably) ground flax seed is consumed mostly in bakery products. Hens fed flax seed produce "omega eggs," which are sold in the U.S. and Canada for their high omega-3 oil content. Much flax seed meal also is fed to pets and other animals. Research is being conducted to determine the health benefits of human consumption of flax seed products.

Fiber flax is grown in Europe and Asia. Its fiber is used to make fine linen cloth. Fiber flax varieties are very tall with few branches and low seed production. Seed flax is short, multiple branched and selected for high seed production. For whole story go to: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/crops/a1038w.htm.

NDSU Extension Offers Crop and Pest Report

Each season brings new challenges and pest problems in crop production.

To help, the North Dakota State University Extension Service is offering a "Crop and Pest Report" newsletter.

It will keep producers and others informed and prepared on how to effectively manage any problem. The newsletter is a weekly series of updates on crop, soil, insect, disease, horticultural and weed conditions. Each issue contains valuable information about insect and disease problems, pest alerts, integrated pest management strategies, pesticide updates, agronomy and fertility issues, horticulture problems, reports from the NDSU Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, important Extension meetings and a weather outlook.

Local reports also are included on agronomic and pest issues, plus crop development from agronomists at the Research Extension Centers across the state.

Subscribers will have the option of receiving the newsletter by mail or electronically in a color PDF format. To subscribe for the free e-mail or mailed version of the report, visit the crop and pest report website at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/entomology/ndsucpr/ .

The report can be delivered by mail for a year's subscription rate of $20. People who received the report in the past must resubscribe because of data management changes.

The first report will be available in mid-May.


Functionality of Flaxseed and Canola Short Course

Registration is now open for the 2010 Functionality of Flaxseed and Canola Short Course. Course dates are April 27 - 29th 2010. We hope to see you there! Reserve your spot today, registration information can be found by following the link http://www.northern-crops.com/scourses/scflaxandcanola/10flaxandcanolasc.html

Application rate changed on herbicide for flax

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has issued a FIFRA Section 24(c) special local needs (SLN) registration to Dow AgroSciences, enabling North Dakota flax growers to increase the amount of  the herbicide Curtail®M they use to control Canada thistle and other broadleaf weeds.

“This SLN registration allows for Curtail M use rates on flax higher than those allowed under the EPA-approved labeling for this product,” Goehring said. “Users can now apply Curtail M at a maximum rate of 1.75 pints of product per acre, allowing for more effective control of Canada thistle.”

Goehring explained that Curtail M contains two active ingredients – clopyralid and 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reduced the allowable application rate of MCPA on flax, thereby reducing the maximum application rate of Curtail M to 0.85 pints per acre.

“That is about half the amount needed to control the weeds,” Goehring said. “Since no other federally registered pesticides are available to effectively manage Canada thistle in flax, I issued the registration to restore the original application rate. I believe the situation meets the criteria of a special local need.” 

Goehring said users of Curtail M under this SLN registration are required to comply with all restrictions, precautions, and directions found in both the SLN supplemental labeling and the EPA-approved container label. Users must also have a copy of the SLN supplemental labeling in their possession during use.

Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) allows states to register an additional use of a federally registered pesticide product, or a new end use product to meet a special local need. A special local need is an existing or imminent pest problem within a state for which the state has determined that an appropriate federally registered pesticide product is not sufficiently available. In most cases, SLN registrations are used by states to adjust use patterns of existing registrations, such as changes to use rate, application methods, or timing. SLN registrations can also be used to expand a product’s use on new crops or sites. SLN registrations are issued by states and are state-specific. EPA reviews SLN registrations and can deny them within 90 days of issuance.

North Dakota is the nation’s leading producer of flax, growing about 95 percent of crop.

The SLN registration is effective immediately and expires Dec. 31, 2015.

Canadian Flax in European Marketplace

Winnipeg, MB (September 11, 2009)

On September 8, 2009 the European Commission issued a Rapid Alert notification, confirming the presence of CDC Triffid flax in some Canadian flax samples. To date, we have not seen any laboratory results that would prove this to be the case. We are working with the Canadian European Mission in Brussels to determine what prompted this action.

European labs have been testing Canadian flax and initial analytical results indicate, in some samples, the presence of NPTII, a genetic marker common to many GM crops. Some of these labs are now stating that this indicates the presence of CDC Triffid, genetically modified flax, not approved for production in .

The Flax Council of Canada considers the possibility of genetically modified flax to be a very serious issue.

The Council is also in discussion with Foreign Affairs International Trade Canada (DFAIT), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), to keep them apprised of the situation and enlist their assistance with potential trade issues.

In conjunction with industry experts and scientists, the Flax Council of Canada is working with Plant Biotechnology Institute in and the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory to establish a proper protocol that will conclusively determine if Canadian flax contains CDF Triffid. Since DNA testing is extremely sensitive, and technology has improved considerably in recent years, this protocol has to be carefully developed to ensure accurate and reliable results.

As these results become available, we will communicate further with you.



2009 Flax Update Courtesy of Wild Oats Publishing 

Flax is still selling at a premium to canola but the writing is on the wall. Prices have been dropping, slowly, since there isn’t a lot of international trade or flax being delivered off farms. Now some elevators are pulling their flax bids thinking product will be cheaper down the road and not wanting to insult farmers with low-ball bids.

Canadian production will be 915,000 tonnes this year, assuming the crop comes off. That’s up from 861,000 last year and 634,000 in 2007. Meanwhile demand is steady, at best. The pet food market is holding it’s own and the human edible market is always there but industrial use is very soggy. With most of the world in dire financial straights there is little new industrial or residential building. Thus demand for linoleum is weak.

Flax prices have been weakening for months, but quietly on light trade. There has been little business written for fall shipment. Regular European users are being supplied with Eastern European flax. They have little interest in importing from.

A few processors are still offering $10 for flax but these bids are getting harder to find.

There are 275,000 tonnes of flax in-store in western , mostly in farmer hands.

Wild Oats does not normally start selling prior to the start of harvest and, this year, for flax, that will be mid September. However if you’re sitting on old crop your changes of better prices are largely limited to an early frost. That, of course, is not out of the question but the current heat is bringing crops along nicely.

One longer-term positive aspect of flax markets is the that the rest of the world is catching up to the health benefits of omega vegoils, of which flax is the main component. Specialty human-edible flax is the product to be holding.