Re-introduction of Flax as a Viable Economic and Rotational Crop in an Organic System

Final Report for FNC99-249

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 1999: $875.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2001
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Expand All

Project Information


Rissman Organic Farm is a diversified 370 acre grains and livestock operation producing: oats, wheat, barley, and now flax has been added, corn, food grade soybeans, sorghum/milo/soybean silage for feed, mixed alfalfa/grass hay and haylage. Livestock include: cattle chickens for meat and eggs, rabbits and ducks.

Current sustainable practices employed include: buffer strips along creek banks, contour strips farming in erosive areas, waterways, composting (1997 grant) cover crops and intercropping, creek bank stabilization using Christmas trees, as well as the most diversified crop rotation in the county. All these have been practiced at least 3 years and many longer.

The goal of this project was to learn how to grow flax from seedling to seed in the bin, and all the agronomic practices along the way. Listed below are the “summarized” version of the successes and failures of this project which are included in the report tilted; Just the “Flax” Ma’am.

1) Seed acquisition, readily available supply identified for this area.
2) Seedbed preparation practices and seed depth practices identified
3) Works well drilled or broadcast, depending on moisture
4) Conventional equipment can be used with minimal adjustments or changes to machinery
5) Identified two harvesting options
6) Flax can grow and yield well in this area

Project Failures or what hasn’t been determined:
1) Seeding rates, will higher rates yield more?
2) Will higher seeding rates cause crop lodging?
3) Will higher seeding rates be more weed competitive?
4) Can you interseed flax with oats and separate the flax later?
5) Will interseeding oats and flax provide weed control or aid in harvest?
6) Will interseeding flax with oats cause germination problems of either?

A field day was held August 5th and attendance was approximately 50 people. The morning sessions went fine, NC+ Organic Hybrid test plot, pastured poultry and turkey, and the flax test plot. The afternoon session was held inside and one of the speakers planned for the day, Ron Deutch from Sharon Grain Int. was not able to attend because of the weather. He was scheduled to speak on some of the new oat varieties including the “Vista” variety which I grew. I guess the weather changed our plans, plenty of rain that afternoon!

A copy of the final report was also submitted to The Organic Broadcaster for publishing, and The Isas News. The final report will also be printed in The Agroecology Newsletter in the March issue featuring diversity and rotations.

Another form of outreach I have participated in is grant writing workshops sponsored by UIUC Agroecology/Sustainable Ag Program. I have participated in these each year since 1998.

Also I will ask Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant to post this on the sustainable Ag web page.


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.