Developing agronomic practices for flax production in the Northeast

Final Report for ONE13-180

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,889.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

With uncertain stability and increasing grain, fuel, and energy costs, many livestock farmers want to work towards innovative strategies to gain an advantage in the marketplace.  Flax is a new crop to the region but is generating lots of interest by farmers and consumers. Flax is well known for having high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids making this a plant that has benefits for human and animal health. Hence flax is a versatile crop that can provide many services and markets for the farmer.  Development of regional production practices will assist farmers with producing flax as a high value oilseed crop. 

Therefore the objective of this project was to develop varietal recommendations, weed management strategies, and proper planting date ranges to improve the yield and quality of flax in the Northeast. Research was conducted in 2013 at the Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT. The weed control trial was repeated at Borderview Farm in 2014. An additional on-farm trial was initiated in Westfield, VT to evaluate clover underseeding as a weed control option in flax.

The project helped us better understand practices that would lead to acceptable yields in flax grown in the Northeast. Yields in 2013 were extremely low for all trials due to harvest issues and weed pressure in some of the trials.

It was clear that swathing the crop would have led to increased yields and this practice was utilized in 2014. The results of swathing were simply worth the effort as yields average 1400 pounds per acre. The 12 varieties (listed in Table 1) evaluated in this trial did not perform statistically differently from one another in yield or oil content. Flax yields ranged from 255 to 634 lbs. acre1, which is much lower than typical yields from regions where flax is normally grown (Endres et al., 2015).  Oil content of varieties averaged 30.2% and was lower than the average 40% reported for industry values and was likely a result of using only mechanical extrusion and not solvent extraction (Newkirk, 2015). All varieties had similar fatty acid levels except for the variety ‘York’, which was significantly lower than the other eleven varieties. Low free fatty acids levels may indicate that this variety would be less prone to oxidation as compared to other flax varieties. Flaxseed is known to be a rich source of protein and energy. In this trial there was no significant difference in feed value between varieties however the average crude protein was high (38.7% crude protein) and similar to other values reported in the literature (DeClercq, 2006). More work needs to be conducted under revised harvest techniques to evaluate varietal yield differences.

A planting date study evaluated two varieties of flax planted on four planting dates from mid-April to mid-May 2013. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with split plots and four replications. Main plots were weekly planting dates from 19-Apr to 10-May. Subplots were two flax varieties including a brown (var ‘Rahab 94’) and a golden (var ‘Omega’) flax type. There were no statistical yield differences between planting dates indicating that mid April to mid May planting dates will produce similar yields. Weed pressure did not differ significantly among planting dates.

The weed control trials were conducted in 2013 and 2014. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications. Four weed control techniques were compared against a control of standard 6” row spacing and no cultivation. The narrow row treatment was planted with a Kverneland grain drill at 4.5” row spacing. The wide row treatment was also planted with a Kverneland grain drill (by plugging every other hole in the hopper for 9” row spacing) and cultivated with a Schmotzer hoe. The tine-weed treatment was planted with a Great Plains grain drill at 6” row spacing and tine-weeded. The inter-seed treatment was planted with a Great Plains grain drill at standard 6” row spacing with the addition of Ladino white clover at 6 lbs. acre-1. Weed control studies determined that cultivation was a viable means to weed control in flax. Of the two cultivation strategies, the Schmotzer hoe was the most effective at removing weeds from the flax plots in both years. In 2013, tine weeding one month after planting killed 23% of weeds while cultivating with the Schmotzer hoe removed 81% of weeds. In 2014, tine weeding one month after planting killed 88% of weeds while cultivating with a Schmotzer hoe removed 91% of weeds. It is important to note that selecting fields with low weed pressure is likely a more important strategy to succes with flax. In 2013 high weed pressure resulted in only narrow and wide row flax being harvested. The narrow row (474 lbs per acre) and wide row (622 lbs per acre) flax were statistically higher in yield than the control (272 lbs per acre).  In 2014 a field with lower weed pressure was used for the experiment. In this case all weed control treatments were harvested and did not differ signficantly in yield. The average yield for 2014 weed control trials was 1158 lbs per acre.

In order to successfully grow flax in the Northeast field selection is key. This crop likes early planting and very low weed pressure. Swathing the crop prior to harvest will lead to more efficient removal of the seed by the combine and hence a higher yield.

DeClercq, D.R. 2006. Quality of western Canadian flaxseed 2006. Canadian Grain
Commission. www.grainscanada.gc.ca

Newkirk, Rex. 2015. Flax Feed Industry Guide. Flax Canada 2015. Winnepeg, Manitoba.

Introduction:

Farmers interested diversifying need evidence that growing flax is a viable crop in the northeast. Flax is a cool season oilseed crop that is primarily grown in drier climates. There is a lot of potential, however, to fit flax production into the cropping systems of Vermont farms. Flax grows well in climates with good moisture and cool temperatures during flowering. Currently 95-99% of flax production in the United States takes place in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Montana.

Flax is well-known for having high concentrations of omega-3 FA. A few farmers in the Northeast have experimented with flax but have reported issues with weed control. This issue has been reported in other regions as well, including the Midwest. In addition, we have not conducted an extensive evaluation of flax varieties with suitable levels of omega-3 FA and good adaptability to the humid moist climate of the Northeast.

Flax is a versatile crop that can provide many services for the farmer. Sales for human consumption can be whole seed, seed meal, or flax oil. Similarly for the feed market, whole flax or meal can be used as a supplement, or flax pellets can be fed to animals after the oil has been pressed from it. The pellets are reported to have very high quality protein (34%). There is also potential to include flax in a rotation on Vermont dairy farms. It has been used as a nurse crop on many farms in the northeast before seeding down. We’d like to test this application as part of the inter-seed portion of the weed control study.

The biggest challenge associated with growing flax is weed control. Flax is slow growing and only reaches about 1-3 feet in height. It is not very competitive with weeds so a highly effective weed management plan is critical for success.

In our preliminary trails with flax, we have had only limited success. Some problems encountered involved the seeding equipment which did not allow for good seed to soil contact and therefore resulted in poor germination. Planting too late in the season also presented a challenge. Weed control was the biggest set back, however. But even in plots that were thoroughly weeded, we still struggled to have a good seed set. We need to explore weed control strategies for effective flax production. These will include seeding in narrow and wide rows, interseeding with low growing clovers and other crops, and cross seeding. We need to know the optimal window for planting to make appropriate recommendations to farmers and to understand if there is an optimal flowering window for viable seed production. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we need to know what cultivars do best in this region.

The goal of this project was to provide farmers with agronomic information on flax production that they can use to successfully produce flax on their farms.

Project Objectives:

The overall goal of this project was to increase the knowledge base for farmers to produce flax on-farm and improve farm profitability. 

OBJECTIVE 1 was to identify regionally-adapted brown and golden flax genotypes that offer an optimal combination of early vigor, disease resistance, weed competitiveness, yield and oilseed quality—characteristics that serve at the foundation of growers’ management strategies.

 OBJECTIVE 2 was to evaluate weed management strategies in flax. Growers have identified severe weed competition as a barrier to success with flax. Since herbicide options are limited and many growers also prefer non-herbicide control options new and innovative practices need to be evaluated. We evaluated narrow row, high-density sowing and wide-row/cultivation strategies, which have performed impressively in small grain production, to determine efficacy for weed management in flax. In addition, there was evidence from other regions that underseeding flax with clover may reduce weed pressure.

 OBJECTIVE 3 was to identify proper planting dates required to maximize flax yield and quality. Cool season crops such as flax are sensitive to late planting as warm temperatures can have an impact on seed set. Through this project we conducted a planting date study with two flax varieties to determine the range of best possible planting dates for our region.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Jack Lazor
  • Roger Rainville

Research

Materials and methods:

VARIETY TRIAL

Twelve flax varieties were planted at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT on 23-Apr 2013. The twelve varities include two golden flax and 10 brown flax varieties. A  list of varieties can be found in Table 1. The previous crop was sod. The field was disked and spike tooth harrowed prior to planting. Plots were seeded with a Great Plains Cone Seeder at a seeding rate of 50 lbs acre-1.

Flax plots were harvested with an Almaco SP50 small plot combine on 6-Sep 2014. The harvest area was 5’ x 20’. Seed was cleaned with a small Clipper M2B cleaner (A.T. Ferrell, Bluffton, IN).

Population and vigor were measured on 22-May. Populations were determined by taking two 1/3 meter counts per plot.

On 9-Jul plant heights were measured, and the severity of lodging was recorded as a percent of plot lodged. Flax plots were harvested with an Almaco SP50 small plot combine on 6-Sep 2013. The harvest area was 5’ x 20’. Seed was cleaned with a small Clipper M2B cleaner (A.T. Ferrell, Bluffton, IN). Oil from a known volume of each seed sample was extruded on 5-Feb 2014 with a Kern Kraft Oil Press KK40 (at 120°F and 40 RPM), and the oil quantity was measured to calculate oil content. A subsample of flax meal from each plot was sent to Cumberland Valley Analytics in Hagerstown, MD for wet chemistry analysis of crude protein (as a percentage of dry matter content) and fat (as a percentage of dry matter content, calculated with ether extraction). The oil and meal were also analyzed with an NIRS (Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy) DS2500 Feed and Forage analyzer (Foss, Eden Prairie, MN) at the University of Vermont Cereal Testing Lab (Burlington, VT). Results were analyzed with an analysis of variance or a Tukey-Kramer test of significance in SAS (Cary, NC). The Least Significant Difference (LSD) procedure was used to separate cultivar means when the F-test was significant (p< 0.10).

PLANTING DATE TRIAL

Two varieties of flax were planted on four planting dates from mid-April to mid-May 2013. This trial was conducted at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with split plots and four replications. Main plots were weekly planting dates from 19-Apr to 10-May. Subplots were two flax varieties including a brown (var ‘Rahab 94’) and a golden (var ‘Omega’) flax type. Plots were 5’ x 20’ in size. General plot management is listed in Table 1. The previous crop was spring wheat. The field was disked and spike tooth harrowed prior to planting. Plots were seeded at a seeding rate of 50 lbs acre-1.

Populations were determined on 22-May by counting plants in two 1/3 meter sections. Weed cover was determined on 17-Jun as a percent of total plant cover using the web based IMAGING crop response analyzer. Digital images were taken with a compact digital camera, Canon PowerShot G12 (Melville, NY) (10.4 Megapixels). One picture covering approximately 1/2 m2 was taken in each plot before weeding and one picture was taken after weeding. Digital images were analyzed with the automated imaging software, which was programmed in MATLAB (MathWorks, Inc., Natick, MA) and later converted into a free web-based software (www.imaging-crop.dk). The outcome of the analysis is a leaf cover index, which is the proportion of pixels in the images determined to be green. Total plant cover (1st picture) – flax cover (second picture)/ total plant cover = weed cover (%).

Flax plots were harvested with an Almaco SPC50 small plot combine on 5-Sep 2013. The harvest area was 5’ x 20’. Seed was cleaned with a small Clipper M2B cleaner (A.T. Ferrell, Bluffton, IN). Results were analyzed with an analysis of variance in SAS (Cary, NC). The Least Significant Difference (LSD) procedure was used to separate cultivar means when the F-test was significant (p< 0.10).


WEED CONTROL TRIAL

2013 – TRIAL

This trial was planted at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT on 19-Apr 2013. The field was disked and spike tooth harrowed prior to planting. Plots were seeded with variety ‘Rahab 94’ at a seeding rate of 50 lbs acre-1. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications. Four weed control techniques were compared against a control of standard 6” row spacing and no cultivation. The narrow row treatment was planted with a Kverneland grain drill at 4.5” row spacing. The wide row treatment was also planted with a Kverneland grain drill (by plugging every other hole in the hopper for 9” row spacing) and cultivated with a Schmotzer hoe on 4-Jun. The tine-weed treatment was planted with a Great Plains grain drill at 6” row spacing and tine-weeded on 4-Jun. The interseed treatment was planted with a Great Plains grain drill at standard 6” row spacing with the addition of Alice white clover at 4 lbs acre-1.

Heights, population, and weed counts were measured on 31-May. Populations were determined by counting flax plants in one ½ meter2 quadrat per plot. Annual and perennial broadleaf and grass weeds were counted in one ½ meter2 quadrat before and after cultivation. The tine-weed and wide row treatments were cultivated on 4-Jun. Additionally, weed cover was determined on 18-Jun as a percent of total plant cover using the web based IMAGING crop response analyzer. Digital images were taken with a compact digital camera, Canon PowerShot G12 (Melville, NY) (10.4 Megapixels). One picture covering approximately 1/2 m2 was taken in each plot before weeding and one picture was taken after weeding. Digital images were analyzed with the automated imaging software, which was programmed in MATLAB (MathWorks, Inc., Natick, MA) and later converted into a free web-based software (www.imaging-crop.dk). The outcome of the analysis is a leaf cover index, which is the proportion of pixels in the images determined to be green. Total plant cover (1st picture) – flax cover (second picture)/ total plant cover = weed cover (%).

Flax plots were harvested with an Almaco SPC50 small plot combine on 6-Sep 2013. The harvest area was 5’ x 20’. Seed was cleaned with a small Clipper M2B cleaner (A.T. Ferrell, Bluffton, IN). Results were analyzed with an analysis of variance in SAS (Cary, NC). The Least Significant Difference (LSD) procedure was used to separate cultivar means when the F-test was significant (p< 0.10).

2014 – TRIAL

This trial was planted at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT on 9-May 2014. The previous crop was corn with rye cover crop. The field was disked and spike tooth harrowed prior to planting. Plots were seeded with variety ‘Rahab 94’ at a seeding rate of 50 lbs acre-1. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications. Four weed control techniques were compared against a control of standard 6” row spacing and no cultivation. The narrow row treatment was planted with a Kverneland grain drill at 4.5” row spacing. The wide row treatment was also planted with a Kverneland grain drill (by plugging every other hole in the hopper for 9” row spacing) and cultivated with a Schmotzer hoe on 9-Jun. The tine-weed treatment was planted with a Great Plains grain drill at 6” row spacing and tine-weeded on 2-Jun. The inter-seed treatment was planted with a Great Plains grain drill at standard 6” row spacing with the addition of Ladino white clover at 6 lbs. acre-1 and Laura Meadow Fescue at 12 lbs. acre-1 on 15-May.

Annual and perennial broadleaf and grass weeds were counted before and after cultivation on 2-Jun for tine-weeding and 9-Jun for Schmotzer hoeing. Flax plots were cut and swathed on 22-Aug and picked up with an Almaco SPC50 small plot combine on 26-Aug 2014. The harvest area was 5’ x 20’. Seed was cleaned with a small Clipper M2B cleaner (A.T. Ferrell, Bluffton, IN). Results were analyzed with an analysis of variance in SAS (Cary, NC). The Least Significant Difference (LSD) procedure was used to separate cultivar means when the F-test was significant (p< 0.10).

ON-FARM INTERSEEDING TRIAL

 This trial was planted at Butterworks Farm in Westfield, VT on 19-May 2013. The previous crop was grass sod. The field was plowed in the fall of 2012 and disked and spike tooth harrowed prior to planting. Plots were seeded at a seeding rate of 50 lbs acre-1. Three interseed treatments were initiated approximately one month after flax planting. The treatments included Alice white clover (6 lbs acre-1), Forage blend of timothy, alsike clover and red clover (15 lbs acre-1), and a control.  The plots were broadcast seeded with the forage a crop in plots 5 x 20’ and replicated 3 times. Unfortunately severe weed pressure followed by lodging made it impossible to harvest the plots. The farmer was also unable to harvest his crop. The trial was repeated in 2014 but deer and turkey damaged demolished the crop prior to harvest.

Research results and discussion:

VARIETY TRIAL

Flax yields and plot characteristics are listed in Table 2 (see attached file ‘Tables and Images for Flax Variety Trial 2013‘). Plant populations measured on 22-May resulted in significant differences between flax varieties with Neche having the highest population of 546 plants m-2. However those differences did not relate to yield differences when the plots were harvested on 6-Sep. Flax yields ranged from 255 to 634 lbs. acre1, which is much lower than typical yields from regions where flax is normally grown. Yields from variety trials in North Dakota range from 1200-1600 lbs acre-1 (Endres et al., 2015). While yields from our Vermont flax trial probably did not match North Dakota yields, our harvest yields are likely much lower than actual yields due to the challenges faced in harvesting. Yields from our Vermont flax trial were lower than North Dakota yields. Yield was mostly compromised due to harvest difficulties with the plot combine. Direct combining the light-weight flax seed proved more challenging than expected. The air on the combine needed to be shut-off so seed would not be lost out the back of the combine. Unfortunately this resulted in all of the chaff and seed getting plugged in the base of the combine. Once plugged it was very difficult to remove the seed without losing some of the plot onto the ground. This issue would have likely been alleviated if the crop was swathed and dried prior to harvest. Unfortunately, the weather at the time of harvest was not favorable for swathing so direct combining was used for harvest. Next season if direct combine is necessary, hand harvest will be performed on a subsection of the plot to determine yields prior to harvest loss. A picture taken on 1-Aug (Image 1 in file ‘Tables and Images for Variety Trial’) shows the weed-free flax variety trial. Characteristics of oil extruded from each flax variety are listed in Table 3 (see attached file ‘Tables and Images for Flax Variety Trial 2013’).

Overall, there was no significant difference amongst the varieties for oil content or other characteristics except for free fatty acids. All varieties had similar fatty acid levels except for the variety ‘York’, which was significantly lower than the other eleven varieties. Peroxide value is a measure of rancidity of unsaturated fats and oils. Values below 10 are fresh. Rancid oils will measure between 30-40 Meq/kg. All of the oil from the flax varieties was fresh with peroxide values that averaged 1.5 Meq/kg of fat. The iodine value reflects the degree of unsaturation of oil. The higher the number, the more unsaturated the oil is (the more double bonds). All the oil from the flax varieties had similar levels of unsaturation.

There was no significant difference in meal characteristics among the twelve flax varieties (Table 4 in ‘Tables and Images for Flax Variety Trial 2013′). All varieties had similar meal characteristics. The average crude protein of the flax meal was 38.7% and the average fat content was 13.4%, ranging from 12.4 to 15.3%. Flax meal fiber levels averaged 14.8% and ash was 7.6%.

Additional information can be found in the attachment 2013 Flax Variety Trial Report.

PLANTING DATE TRIAL

Flax plot characteristics and harvest yields are presented by planting date in Table 5 and by variety in Table 6 (see attached file ‘Tables Planting Date Trial 2013‘). Overall, yields were lower than expected due to heavy weed pressure. Weeds covered on average 25.2% of the plots. There was no reduction in weed pressure as a result of earlier planting dates. Additionally, of the two varieties chosen for the planting date trial, Omega’s growth was poor (compared to the other 11 varieties in the Flax Variety Trial). The stands of Omega were thin and it is unclear if seed quality was the major factor impeding germination. However, even with the significant difference in yield and population between the two varieties (Table 6 in attached file ‘Tables Planting Date Trial 2013’), there was no significant difference in yield by planting date. Generally, yields of the two flax varieties, Omega and Rahab 94, decreased with later planting dates. It is important to note that flax yields were far lower than expected. Significant losses were likely associated with direct combining flax with heavy weed pressure. To reduce flax losses the air speed on the combine is turned off, but this results in all the trash and wet weed seeds mixing with the flax seed. This mix is difficult to move through the combine and hence the combine can become easily plugged. The best means to deal with weeds in the flax is to swath the field and let dry so that weeds will separate better from the flax crop. Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive to swathing so direct combining was the only option.

Additional information can be found in the attachment 2013 Flax Planting Date Trial Report.

WEED CONTROL TRIAL

2013-TRIAL
Two weed treatments in this study so poorly competed with weeds that we did not harvest them due to the excessive weed pressure. Only the narrow row treatment, wide row with Schmotzer hoe, and control were harvested (for comparison purposes) (Table 1 in ‘Tables, Images, and Figures Flax Weed Control Trial 2013‘). Images of these treatments just before harvest are presented below (Images 2-4). Visually, it was clear that the wide row with hoeing treatment was most effective at competing with weeds; the narrow row treatment was a close second, and the control was over-run with weeds.

Flax populations, weed populations, and heights measured on 31-May were not significantly different for any of the weed control treatments. The weed cover, measured on 18-Jun resulted in significantly different weed cover (out of total plant cover), 14.0 and 16.6% for the narrow row and wide row treatments compared to over 40% weeds for the control (Figure 1 in ‘Tables, Images, and Figures Flax Weed Control Trial 2013‘). The wide row with cultivation yielded the highest at 622 lbs acre-1, over twice the yields from the control plot (Table 1 & Figure 1 in ‘Tables, Images, and Figures Flax Weed Control Trial 2013‘). Challenges of direct cut combining, such as losing the light flax seed in nooks and cracks in the combine, likely resulted in harvest yields lower than actual yields.

Additional information can be found in the attachment 2013 Flax Weed Control Trial Report.

2014-TRIAL
Flax yields averaged 1,158 lbs. acre-1 in 2014 (Table 8 in Tables Flax Weed Control Trial 2014). There was no significant difference in yields or test weight amongst any of the weed control techniques. However, the average yield was more than double the 2013 average. The reasons for this increase in yield likely include lower weed pressure and better harvest technique. Overall, the weed pressure in 2014 was much less than 2013. The average weed populations were 169 weeds meter-2 compared to 423 weeds meter-2 in 2013. Likely the low weed pressure experienced by flax in 2014 resulted in adequate yields regardless of weed control technique. To harvest, plots were cut and swathed, and picked up with a combine four days later. This technique allowed the flax and weed biomass to dry down. Additional adjustments to the combine, such as turning the air off, prevented flax seed from being lost in the combine.

 

Overall, cultivation approximately one month after planting reduced weed pressure in the flax plots by about 90% (Table 9 in Tables Flax Weed Control Trial 2014). Cultivating with a Schmotzer hoe removed 91% of all weeds, while tine-weeding removed 88%. There was no significant difference in the amount of weeds removed from either cultivation technique. Cultivation appears to be an adequate technique to control weeds in flax especially under moderate weed pressure. Timing of the cultivation is important for successful removal of weed species. The cultivation occurred when the weeds were in the cotyledon to first leaf stages making them easier to remove with mechanical equipment.

Additional project information can be found in the attachment 2014 Flax Weed Control Trial Report.

WEED CONTROL TRIAL SUMMARY

In 2013, two treatments in this study competed so poorly with weeds that we did not harvest them due to the excessive weed pressure. Only the narrow row and wide row treatments were effective at reducing weed pressure. Visually, it was clear that the wide row with cultivation treatment was most effective at competing with weeds; the narrow row treatment was a close second, and the control was over-run with weeds. The harvest data supports this; the wide row treatment yielded the most at 622 lbs. acre-1. Interestingly, in 2014 lower overall weed pressure resulted in successful harvest from all treatment plots. Flax yields averaged 1,158 lbs. acre-1, which is closer to yields from traditional flax growing regions. There was no significant difference in yields or test weight amongst any of the weed control techniques. The reasons for this increase in yield included lower overall weed pressure and better harvest technique. The average weed populations in 2014 were 169 weeds meter-2 compared to 423 weeds meter-2 in 2013. Likely the low weed pressure experienced by flax in 2014 resulted in adequate yields regardless of weed control technique. To harvest, plots were cut and swathed, and picked up with a combine four days later. This technique allowed the flax and weed biomass to dry down. Additionally, adjustments to the combine such as turning the air off prevented flax seed from being lost inside the combine.

Of the two cultivation strategies, the Schmotzer hoe was the most effective at removing weeds from the flax plots in both years. In 2013, tine weeding one month after planting killed 23% of weeds while cultivating with the Schmotzer hoe removed 81% of weeds. In 2014, tine weeding one month after planting killed 88% of weeds while cultivating with a Schmotzer hoe removed 91% of weeds. Cultivation appears to be an adequate technique to control weeds in flax especially under moderate weed pressure. Timing of the cultivation is also important for successful removal of weed species. The weeds were cultivated in the cotyledon to first leaf stages, making them easier to remove with mechanical equipment.

Endres, G., H. Kandel, S. Pederson, D. Amiot, 2015. North Dakota Alternative Crop Variety Trial Results for 2014 and Selection Guide. North Dakota State University Extension Service. Publication A1105-14. Fargo, ND.

Research conclusions:

The major outcomes were the development of research reports for delivery to the farming community during the winter of 2014 and 2015. Through the project we provided approximately 1,161 farmers and service providers with knowledge on how to produce flax in the northeast.  A video as well as a flax bulletin were produced and were posted on our website at www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil.

Since the onset of the project there has been one farmer to adopt narrow row flax production to achieve better weed control and higher yields. One farm has adopted a new variety as well as interseeding clover as a result of this project. In addition, 5 new farmers started to grow flax in the Northeast.

 

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

OUTREACH & EDUCATION

Three research reports from 2013 have been generated and two from the 2014 season. Research reports are attached and include:
2013 Flax Variety Trial Report
2013 Flax Planting Date Trial Report
2013 Flax Weed Control Report
2014 Flax Weed Control Report

These research reports were posted on the UVM Northwest Crop and Soil website (uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/. The reports were also widely distributed at conferences, workshops and field days during the project period.

In June of 2013 a Grain Field Day was held to highlight research trials at Borderview Farm. There were 68 farmers in attendance at the daylong event. Farmers toured the flax research trials and learned about preliminary results.

The flax research was presented to 135 attendees at the 2014 annual Grain Growers Conference held in March of 2014. Research reports were distributed.

Flax was highlighted at the UVM Extension Crop and Soil Field Day held at Borderview Farm in the summer of 2013 and 2014. This event drew approximately 425 people from the region over the two years. At the field day flax weed control and variety trial research plots were viewed anddata shared with attendees.

An article on the flax weed control project was developed and published in the December 2014 Northern Grain Growers Association Newsletter. The newsletter is distributed to over 300 members. The newsletter can be viewed as the attachment Flax Grain Newsletter.

A presentation on flax cultivation and research results was present at the New England Certified Crop Advisers Training in Portsmouth, NH on February 3, 2015. There were 56 attendees to the presentation.

A flax production video was developed and post to YouTube in March of 2015. The video was focused on weed control in flax. The link to the video http://youtu.be/rBmZkI0tGc0. There have been 177 views of the video since March 2015.

 

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

An economic analysis was not performed as part of this project.

Farmer Adoption

Based on our interactions with farmers throughout the project period we know of 5 farmers that have begun to grow flax in the Northeast. The majority of these growers are located in New York. One farme that had grown flax for years purchased an air-seeder similar to the one used in the this reasearch trial. The goal was for the farmer to plant flax in narrow rows to minimize weed competition. The air-seeder purchased by the farmer can plant in 4″ rows. This farm has found success growing flax with this strategy. Another farm that had grown flax adopted interseeding with clover to minimize weed control. He has implemented this practice now for two years.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Areas needing additional study

There is still additional study required to optimize flax production in the Northeast. The short term nature of this project limited our ability to create more interest. I felt like it took the project period to understand how to best harvest this crop. This was not a planned barrier to success but as we began our first harvest we quickly learned that this was a challege to growing this crop. Future research would evaluate planting dates and seeding rates over multiple years and environments. In addition further work could be conducted to understand nutrient requirements of this crop. Although significant pest damage was not observed some disease was noted on plants during the 2014 growing season. Better understanding pest challenges would assist growers with growing a more viable crop.

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.