North Dakota and Flax
USDA records of flax production in North Dakota go back to 1889,
although the crop had been grown priori to that date. In fact,
beginning with pioneer days North Dakota has produced flax, as
it was traditionally sown as the first year crop after ôsod-busting." The
state has been leader in flax production among all the states since
1895; currently well over 90% of flax grown in the U.S. is grown
in North Dakota.
The early farmers surmised that flax was very harmful to the land
since if planted in successive years, the soil failed
to continue to produce the crop. Farmers originally
laid blame to flax tiring the the soil within a few years of cultivaton.
Research at NDSU was begun in the early 1900's by Professor H.L.
Bolley determined that disease or a number of diseases were the
problem, and that these diseases were carried over in the soil.
In fact, wheat grown after flax was a higher producing crop than
if not grown immediately after flax.
NDSU researchers have continued researching in flax diseases,
flax production and uses over the decades and continues to have
an active research presense.
For f urther information on the history of flax and flax research
in the state, go to Whitman Eastman's History
of the Linseed Oil Industry in the United States , Chapter
3: "The Work of the Flax Development
committee and the Flax Institute of the United States."