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SaskFlax: Farm Stewardship Program showing results

September 13, 2013 – The Flax Farm Stewardship Program is an important part of the flax industry’s efforts to reduce the amount of CDC Triffid in the Canadian flax crop. Since the program of testing planting seed and crop production was introduced four years ago, the percentage of samples of crop production testing positive for Triffid has dropped from 14% to below 4%. In addition, the level of Triffid (as measured by the number of the four sub-samples testing positive) has also been reduced significantly. This favourable result has been achieved through an extraordinary cooperative effort by flax producers, seed companies, grain handlers, flax processors and exporting companies and government. The Farm Stewardship Program, along with rigid testing protocols being employed by exporters and processors, has allowed Canadian exports and production to rebound from the historical low levels seen two years ago.

Despite these efforts, the amount of Triffid in farm-saved seed stocks and production tested has plateaued in the last two years. That is why we are asking flax producers to participate in a series of steps that will bring the level of CDC Triffid down.

The first step is to segregate your 2013 production (this year’s harvest) from production grown in previous years. Market the flax grown in previous years first. Marketing older production first along with the low carryout stocks of the last two years will help to ensure stocks containing Triffid will be “flushed” from the system. The next step is to replace your planting seed stocks with pedigree seed (including the reconstituted CDC varieties). This will ensure that the seed that goes in the ground in the spring of 2014 is Triffid-free. The final step is to segregate your production in 2014 from inventory produced in previous years.

Throughout these final steps, continue to have your planting seed and crop production tested. It is expected that testing of farm stocks will be discontinued at the end of 2014 and the testing of planting seed will continue indefinitely. The current federal government funding which provides a 50% reduction in producer testing costs will remain in place until the end of this year or until the allocated funding is exhausted. Producers are encouraged to have their stocks tested as early as possible to take advantage of available funding. The Flax Council of Canada is currently exploring ways to extend funding for the program through to the end of 2014.

The flax industry is in the final stages of a five-year effort that has included rigorous testing at all points in the value chain, from seed growers through to exporters and processors and an intensive process to rejuvenate the current planting seed supply. This cooperative effort has produced encouraging results to date. The continued effort over the next year and a half are expected to reduce the amount of Triffid in the Canadian flax crop to a level that is as close to zero as possible and to the point where testing of farm stocks is no longer necessary.

For more information, contact:

William Hill, President – Flax Council of Canada
Tel. (204) 982-2115

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