Flax grown in South Dakota less than demand
Seed treated with a fungicide can reduce seed decay and seedling blight and increase stand significantly. Some published fact sheets on flax production recommend that seeding rates be between 25 to 45 pounds per acre. In fact, Beck said, experienced flax producers in central South Dakota and the SDSU Oilseeds group usually seed flax at rates around 50 pounds per acre.
Vulnerable to frost
Flax is epigeal upon emergence meaning it places its growing point above the soil surface (or above crop residue). This makes it vulnerable to spring frosts, Beck explained.
"High residue conditions actually enhance this issue for crops like flax. Residue reduces frost issues with crops that keep their growing point below the residue/soil surface (peas, small grains, corn) until later in their growth cycle. This means flax is normally seeded later than peas and wheat and before corn," she said.
When seeding with disc drills into no-till it is important to measure the distance of the seed into the soil.
"Some producers tie up their closing wheels when residue levels are heavy, leaving the flax pressed into the bottom of a trench that is not fully closed. High residue farming systems minimize issues with surface crusting. The small seed size of flax means it is vulnerable to surface crusts," Beck said.
Flax is sensitive to seed-placed fertilizers. It is more sensitive to zinc deficiency than many crops. Like most oilseeds it requires sulfur.
To learn more about nutrient requirements of flax, visit iGrow.org and review the South Dakota's Fertilizer Recommendation Guide.
Herbicide options are included in the 2014 South Dakota Pest Management Guide for Alfalfa and Oilseeds. There are several herbicide options (bromoxynil, MCPA, and clopyralid and combinations) that provide opportunities to break resistance cycles that develop in wheat, corn, and soybean production.
Life cycle of flax seed
The life cycle of the flax plant consists of a 45- to 60-day vegetative period, a 15- to 25-day flowering period and a maturation period of 30 to 40 days. Flax maturity is usually judged by the color of the bolls. Beck said that typically flax is harvested when 75-90 percent of the bolls are brown.
During the ripening process, under certain conditions, stems may remain green and a second flush of flowers may even occur. Desiccants can be used to accelerate the drying after the crop is mature (70-80 percent of bolls are brown; seed moisture 30 percent or less) and may be beneficial especially in fields that contain a lot of weeds.
Grasshoppers can be an issue with flax especially during boll development and ripening stages. Sanitation practices on field borders can be very important in preventing problems.
Flax can be straight cut with a platform or stripped using a stripper header. Swathing is an option but is not common anymore. Desiccants can aid this process.
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