Supply/demand pushing up flax prices

(Flax Council of Canada photo)

Corrected, Sept. 23 — MarketsFarm — Prices for flax have skyrocketed in 2021, as the amount to be harvested has fallen while demand has increased, according to Dale McManus of Johnston’s Seeds at Welwyn, Sask.

Johnston’s was paying $38 per bushel for golden flax picked up off of the farm, he said, and brown flax was fetching $36-$37.

Flax is not an easy crop to grow, he said, and its stubble is much harder to get rid of than other crops. As well, other crops have proven to be much more attractive, price-wise, without the difficulties that come with flax.

At nearly 1.03 million acres, the amount of flax planted in Canada exceeded one million for the first time in four years, according to Statistics Canada.

Growers in Saskatchewan seeded an estimated 790,700 acres, up 3.1 per cent from 2020-21, while Alberta farmers planted 141,600 acres, for a jump of 45.8 per cent, while 93,300 acres were sown by Manitoba producers, up 42.7 per cent.

However, due to the severe drought and intense heat this summer, production across the region has been estimated at 378,800 tonnes — down 34.5 per cent compared to last year. This would make for the lowest amount of flax produced since 1992, when 336,600 tonnes came off the fields.

In Saskatchewan, 268,600 tonnes are expected to be harvested, down 40.7 per cent from a year ago. Alberta has been forecast to reap 62,700 tonnes, which would be a drop of 20.2 per cent. In Manitoba, flax is to edge up slightly by 3.3 per cent at 47,500 tonnes.

Against that supply outlook, “flax is a great source of omega (3),” McManus said, and cereal companies such as General Mills and Kellogg’s want that omega to add to their lines of products.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

Correction, Sept. 23, 2021: Quoted prices in second paragraph corrected from “per tonne” to “per bushel.”

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