Potential for fewer flax acres seen this year

CNS Canada — While area seeded to flax in Canada has been increasing over the past four years, that upward momentum may halt in 2016-17.

Flax’s cost of production is higher than many of its rivals and the growing lustre of pulse crops could cut into some acres, according to one industry watcher.

“It’s too early to really throw a number at it, but right now my instincts are it’s going to be down 10 per cent,” said Grant Fehr, a senior merchandiser for Scoular Special Crops at Morden, Man.

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This contrasts with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s recent prediction that 1.73 million acres will go in the ground during 2016-17.

Last year, 1.64 million acres were seeded to flax in Canada, a slight increase from the previous year’s total of 1.59 million.

Fehr said another reason believes acres could be down is the growing speculation that peas and lentils are going to be planted “big time” in Saskatchewan.

Acres of canola and wheat to be seeded will also dictate flax acres, but at this point he said it’s too early to say how much wheat and canola there will be.

“Our cost of production shows (for flax) it’s pretty much a wash, so it’s hard to say where it’s going to be at,” said Fehr.

In flax’s favour right now, however, is its price. “We’ve got a $12 new-crop contract out there, which is an attractive contract for flax.”

Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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