Weather prompts ideas of more flax acres

(Resource News International) — Continued cold and wet weather conditions across much of Manitoba and into eastern regions of Saskatchewan are forcing producers to look at alternative crop choices, including flaxseed.

“Over the past week or so there has been a lot of producers in both provinces picking up flaxseed from seed dealers as the lateness of seeding has begun to cause concern,” said Ben Friesen, a grain buyer with Keystone Grain Ltd. at Winkler, Man.

Flaxseed may not have been their first choice of a crop to put into the ground, he said, but the fact that it can handle the cold better than others at harvest time is attracting some attention.

“Certainly, a lot of producers who grow flaxseed regularly have found that they want to plant it at the same time they are seeding wheat in order to maximize their yield returns,” Friesen said. “However, because it can handle frost better, producers are willing to plant it late and still lose some yield potential.”

Statistics Canada on April 24 estimated that producers in Canada would seed an estimated 1.725 million acres to flaxseed in the spring of 2009. In 2008, 1.56 million acres were seeded to flaxseed.

“Based on conversations with the seed dealers, I’m willing to estimate that the area seeded to flaxseed this spring will be above the StatsCan forecast,” Friesen said.

Producers have been willing to take a chance on flaxseed as cash values for the commodity have been more than a bit attractive over the past couple of years, he added.

Supplies of flaxseed were also not seen as being overly burdensome.

Cash bids for old-crop flaxseed delivered to the elevator in Saskatchewan, as reported by Prairie Ag Hotwire, currently range from $8.89 to $11 a bushel, in Manitoba from $10.50 to $11.75 and in Alberta from $10.31 to $10.57. New-crop bids for flaxseed in Saskatchewan presently range from $8.80 to $10.74 a bushel.

At the end of April, flaxseed bids in Saskatchewan were $8.89 to $10.25 a bushel, in Manitoba $10.50 to $11.75 and in Alberta from $9.56 to $9.80. The only new-crop bid available at the time was located in Saskatchewan, with the value ranging from $8.80 to $9.79 a bushel.