Besides being the most beautiful crop the Prairies grow, Michelle Beaith, agronomist with Saskatchewan Flax, is encouraging farmers to think about growing the oil and fibre crop this season and in the future.
“It’s a good alternative,” she says. “It has a lot of unique diseases. You can break that disease cycle, whether it be a canola, or cereal (etc.) disease cycle, (as it has) some unique diseases, so it’s not going to perpetuate … with insects, it doesn’t have a lot of them specific to it (as) it wasn’t domesticated in North America so it’s just generalist insects, so you can control them and they tend to like other things better than flax.”
Beaith knows that straw and residue management is a drawback to growing flax. She says she’s found a lot of farmers really struggle with going out to harvest it in the fall.
The crop can be a challenge to put through the combine, as sometimes the straw is still green because the plant may not have shut down, or it could even start to re-flower late in the season.
She adds that Saskatchewan Flax is trying to get the message out that producers don’t need to seed late as the crop is actually quite frost tolerant. Beaith also points out it stands really well in fall so even if it’s the last on the list to harvest, that’s OK, too.
Listen to the full interview below between RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse and Saskatchewan Flax’s Michelle Beaith as the pair discuss why a farmer should grow flax, intercropping with flax and chickpeas, and how the organization will be hosting a flax day next month in Regina, Sask.