Flax looks like a good option for growers in 2019. Recent crop budgets from North Dakota State University show flax profits in many parts of the state. Flax showed positive returns of $4 and $18 per acre in the northwestern and southwestern regions. Many growers have consistently had flax yields over 30 bushels per acre, therefore based on this yield, net returns are projected at $79 per acre. These expected returns are very similar to predictions made by both Saskatchewan and Manitoba agencies.
Robust year-round markets now make the traditional reasons for growing flaxseed even more attractive. “Flax has always been an excellent rotation crop and lower input costs are a big advantage for growing flax,” says Blaine Schatz, NDSU agronomist at the Carrington Research Center. Highly tolerant to sclerotinia, flax is sometimes called a pseudo-cereal crop. “Whether a field has an issue with grass or broadleaf diseases, flax can break the disease cycle,” says Schatz.
Because it stores well and has some “shelf” life in the field, flax is a great peace-of-mind crop. “You don’t have as much concern about it shattering or sprouting so harvest timing isn’t as critical,” says Schatz. “Plus, you don’t have to worry about discounts when you go to market so you’re assured of getting the posted market price.”
Expect to save on both nitrogen and phosphorus. A 25- to 30- bushel flax crop will need 80 lbs. of N (including soil test N). At a bushel per acre rate, seed costs are also typically lower for flax.
Finally, because flax harvest typically falls on the backside of cool season crops and before full season crops like corn or sunflowers, flax can spread out the demand on harvest equipment and labor.
Ameriflax is funding grower research that assesses harvest timing and harvest methods in flax and also flax tolerance to potential new herbicides for use in flax. Final results will be released this fall.