Flax expected to lose a third of acres

CNS Canada — Canada’s flax acres are expected to fall about a third from last year’s levels, according to Statistics Canada data.

One market participant says weaker prices have influenced farmers, while another says smaller crops are often overlooked during surveys.

StatsCan estimates flax’s seeded area at about 1.1 million acres, compared with 1.6 million acres the previous year.

“Prices held fairly low, compared to what farmers expected,” said Michael Popowich, co-owner of TA Foods at Yorkton, Sask.

Since flax came off fields last September, price increases have been minimal, he added.

Prices are about $2-$3 per bushel weaker than they normally are in the spring, he said.

Delivered elevator flax is about $10.65 per bushel in Saskatchewan, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

“I think that probably has influenced a lot of farmers to look another direction, for at least one year.”

Poor export movement to China and high acres in 2015 kept pressure on prices over the course of the year.

“That just kind of led to a little bit of oversupply,” Popowich said.

Sometimes farmers don’t keep smaller crops in mind during surveys, said Neil Townsend, director of market research at G3 Canada in Winnipeg.

In future data, he added, there could be a “reversion to mean” in final results.

“You never know with those smaller (crops). We’ll see how it all unfolds out here.”

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @jade_markus on Twitter.

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