Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Flax area seen expanding on strongest prices ever

(Dave Bedard photo)

MarketsFarm — To MarketsFarm Pro analyst Mike Jubinville, there’s no doubt that flaxseed acres in Canada will increase in 2021.

In Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) March supply and demand estimates, the department projected flax acres to jump 22 per cent in 2021-22 at about 1.14 million, up from nearly 931,600 seeded in the previous marketing year. That increase is expected to result in production rising 16.8 per cent to 675,000 tonnes.

Should AAFC’s projections for 2021-22 flax production hold, it would mark the most acres seeded since about 1.6 million were sown in 2015. That year, the harvest reaped more than 943,000 tonnes.

The major reason for the renewed interest in flax has been its price. Currently, old-crop flax is $18.75-$23 per bushel delivered on the Prairies, with new crop at $15-$17/bu. delivered, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

“That will certainly draw grower interest as we tend to look in the rearview mirror for market opportunities when we’re thinking about new-crop plantings,” Jubinville said.

Despite increases in Canadian flax production expected for the coming marketing year, the analyst foresees new-crop prices to hold above $15/bu.

“If we throw challenged growing conditions into the mix, that could be a supportive feature for all commodities in general,” Jubinville said, noting such conditions would trim the yield potential for flax and tighten the balance sheet.

“I fully expect ending stocks to come in under 100,000 tonnes,” he said. AAFC has pegged 2021-22 carryover at 125,000 tonnes.

One of the central reasons for the steep rise in world flax prices has been demand from China, which the analyst deemed “the Hoover vacuum of all commodities.”

In calendar year 2020, Canada exported more than 481,000 tonnes of flax, with China as one of its top customers at over 169,000 tonnes, according to the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database.

For 2021, the database reported about 83,260 tonnes exported globally from Canada, with 31,870 tonnes bound for China.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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