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Improving the Competitiveness of Flax through Agronomic, Breeding and Biotechnology Research

Improving the Competitiveness of Flax through Agronomic, Breeding and Biotechnology Research

  • Start date: 2014
  • Project Length: 2014-2018
  • Project Status: Complete


Although the yield potential of flax is greater than 80 bushels/acre, the long-term prairie average is in the low 20’s. Developing technologies and best management practices to capture a greater share of this yield potential is the current focus of the Flax Council of Canada. Bottom line is that in order to grow acreage, farmers need higher and more consistent flax yield.

In order to achieve this goal, the Flax Council of Canada in partnership with Manitoba Crop Alliance and the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission has been approved for funding through the AgriInnovation Program of Agriculture Agri-food Canada’s Growing Froward 2 program for a series of research projects under the theme “Improving the Competitiveness of Flax through Agronomic, Breeding and Biotechnology.” This Industry-led Research and Development stream incorporates a number of projects that are aimed at developing technologies and best management practices that will achieve our goal of improving flax yield.

Pasmo is the most prevalent disease of flax. A research project called “Management of Pasmo” will result in technologies and practices that will reduce crop loss due to this disease. This project will augment efforts made in managing rust and powdery mildew. Disease resistance is an important pillar to achieve high, stable yield.

Seed quality will be assessed. The impact of using certified seed versus farm saved seed will be evaluated. Seed size and weight will also be assessed by observing seedling vigour. Factors leading to early crop establishment would positively impact yield.

Various tillage treatments and variety selection will be evaluated as a means to mitigate the impact of soil moisture extremes in order to optimize yields. Best management practices identified by this project will help producers stabilize yields in regions that are prone to excess water conditions.

Weed management is critical to achieving high yield and low dockage. A research project entitled “Optimizing Integrated Weed Management in Flax Crops” will evaluate crop management strategies such as seeding rate, date and plant height, as ways to positively impact the competitiveness of flax.

A genomics approach to drought tolerance will be addressed by two research projects. The first project involves developing markers for drought tolerant genes. The second project is focused on identifying transcription factors that control the expression of drought tolerant genes. Drought tolerance is important as flax has a limited root system.

These technologies will be provided to our flax breeders so that drought tolerant varieties may be developed.

Total Funding Approved:

$50,000 annually for a total of $250,000