Prairie flax prices strong as farmers sit on supplies

(Laura Rance photo)

CNS Canada — Flax prices in Western Canada are staying strong, with a lack of significant farmer selling supporting the market.

“It seems as though the farmers are just sitting on their inventory and not bringing it in, so the prices are moving up,” said Richard Zacharias, general manager of Prairie Flax Products near Portage la Prairie, Man.

Current prices for Canadian flax range from about $10.75 to $12.30 per bushel delivered to the elevator, holding fairly steady compared to a month ago, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

Demand for the commodity remains steady as well, despite this year’s crop being a lower quality than normal due to unfavourable growing conditions throughout the summer.

“Quality of this new crop isn’t as good as it has been in the past,” said Zacharias. “The seeds are a bit smaller; they haven’t quite filled out as much as they should have.”

Buyers are coming from all directions for Canadian flax, including China, North America, Korea and South America. Europe is also returning as a buyer of Canadian flax, as the Triffid issue is “just about cleared up,” according to Zacharias. [Related story]

Where Canadian flax prices will move going forward is hard to tell. But, if demand holds steady and farmers start to deliver into cash markets, prices will move lower, Zacharias noted.

If prices manage to stay near current levels, flax will be an attractive crop for farmers to produce next year, when compared with some other crops, Zacharias said.

Farmers this spring seeded 1.57 million acres of flax, up from 1.05 million acres in 2013, Statistics Canada data shows.

Current production estimates for 2014-15 are at 921,600 tonnes, up from 723,900 tonnes the year before. Statistics Canada may update those figures in its upcoming production report on Thursday.

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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