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Flax Production (05/14/20)

NDSU Extension staff have revised the “Flax Production in North Dakota” (A1038, Figure 1) brochure.

NDSU Extension staff have revised the “Flax Production in North Dakota” (A1038, Figure 1) brochure. The publication is intended for producers, consultants, and those interested in flax production. The text covers history and use of flax, plant growth and development, fertilizing, seeding, basic plant adaptation, crop production, variety and field selection, fertilization, seeding, weed control, pest management, harvesting and storage.

Flax production has a long history. Flax remnants were found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland, and ancient Egyptians made fine linens from flax fiber. Flax production moved west across the northern U.S. and Canada during the 1800s. North Dakota is the leading producer of flax for oil and food use in the U.S.

Select a variety adapted to your area. Variety descriptions and recent yield performance can be obtained in NDSU Extension publication A1105, “North Dakota Flax Variety Trial Results and Selection Guide,” available on the NDSU Extension website.

Flax should be sown into firm, moist soil. A well-prepared, firm seedbed will ensure sowing at the proper depth. This, in turn, will result in uniform germination and rapid, even emergence. We recommend a planting depth of 0.75 to 1.5 inches. A stand of 70 plants per square foot is desired. However, if uniform, stands of 30 to 40 plants per square foot may provide a satisfactory yield. As stands drop below 30 plants per square foot, weed competition and delayed maturity are potential problems.

Early seeded flax generally produces the highest yields. Early seeding normally occurs in late April for most of the state except the northeast, where early May seeding is more likely.

Flax is a self-pollinating crop. Seed is produced in a boll or capsule. A complete boll can have 10 seeds, but most bolls will have fewer, averaging around six seeds. Heat stress during flowering may reduce the pollen viability and pollination, which results in a reduced number of seeds per boll and or fewer bolls per plant.

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Hans Kandel

Extension Agronomist Broadleaf Crops

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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