Flax growers scout soggy fields as prices edge upward

CNS Canada — Producers are assessing the effects of weekend rains that soaked flax crops in Western Canada, while prices have ticked up slightly as data reflects shrinking acres.

Flax fields in western Manitoba saw thunderstorms and powerful winds, which knocked out power in some areas of the province during the weekend. Parts of southeastern Saskatchewan received flash flooding, with more rain expected in the coming week.

“We’re trying to get a handle on what that means and how extensive the rain was over the weekend,” said Don Kerr, president at the Flax Council of Canada in Winnipeg.

Prior to recent rains, crops were in good condition, he added.

Flax prices have ticked up slightly following estimates from Statistics Canada, which show acres lower than previously thought, he said.

“It was actually a bit of a surprise to most of the marketplace, because I think traders were anticipating that the acres would be slightly higher than the first report,” he said.

In May, StatsCan said flax had lost a third of acres from year-ago levels, with estimates showing about 1.115 million acres seeded this year.

In June, those estimates were revised downward to about 925,000 acres. Analyst estimates collected by CNS Canada ahead of the report came in between 1.1 million and 1.5 million acres.

The data has had an effect on prices, Kerr said, although he expects flax to remain in ample supply this year.

“We have a pretty large carryover from last year, so overall supplies we should be similar to what we had about a year ago,” he said.

Flax prices in Western Canada are between $11.08 and $11.50 a bushel, according to data from Prairie Ag Hotwire.

— 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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