Flax prices likely to remain flat

MarketsFarm — Although autumn snowfall limited the quality of a lot of Prairie flax, its price has remained flat, according to Brian Johnson of Johnson Seeds at Arborg, Man.

While Johnson has seen some instances of No. 1 flax, he said most of what he’s seen has graded Nos. 2 and 3.

“The premiums are higher than normal between No. 1 and No. 2,” he said, noting Johnson Seeds has been paying the same price since November.

Part of the price flatness has been a lack of exports to China, said Johnson.

Data from the Canadian Grain Commission show 17,700 tonnes of flax sent to China so far in the current crop year, as of November. At the same time in the previous marketing year, China had imported 63,000 tonnes.

Also, flax production was up in the U.S., and farmers there were able to get most their crop off of the field, unlike Prairie farmers.

Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show a 43.2 per cent jump in flax production from 2018-19 to 2019-20, with farmers reaping more than 162,400 tonnes.

Should demand for Canadian flax increase, Johnson said, prices will improve. However, that’s very difficult to forecast.

Prices obtained by Prairie Ag Hotwire found flax going for $12-$15 per bushel delivered in Saskatchewan. In Manitoba, flax was $12.77 per bushel delivered and $12.25-$13.50 in Alberta.

Canadian farmers produced about 486,100 tonnes of flax in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. That continued the decline in flax production in the country that’s seen a 50 per cent drop compared to 2015.

Of 2019’s crop, 359,200 tonnes were grown in Saskatchewan, with 81,500 tonnes in Alberta and 42,300 in Manitoba. There was nominal production in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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