Flax Program at the CDC

The Flax Program at the Crop Development Centre is actively involved with developing flax cultivars for Western Canadian producers. The Flax Program started in 1974 with Gordon Rowland. Dr. Rowland oversaw the development of eleven flax cultivars, most notably CDC Bethune and CDC Sorrel released in 1998 and 2005 respectively. Dr Booker has been the CDC Flax Breeder since 2009 and has released several new cultivars exhibiting improved yield potential across the prairies compared to popularly grown CDC Bethune including: CDC Glas (103%) registered in 2012; CDC Neela (105%) and CDC Plava (106%; targeting the shorter growing season zone) registered in 2015; CDC Buryu (106%; 108% in the brown soil zone) registered in 2017, and CDC Rowland (112%; 117% in the longer season black and grey soil zone) registered in 2018. Specialty yellow seed coat high ALA CDC Melyn and CDC Dorado, registered in 2016 and 2017, respectively, were developed for the emerging human health and animal nutrition market.  See our cultivars page for more information on these lines.

The popularity of CDC Bethune is due to a good combination of valuable traits (high consistent yield, medium time to maturity, medium oil content,  immunity to flax rust resistance, moderate resistance to flax wilt and good lodging resistance). CDC Bethune is also one of the best characterized flax varieties, being the subject of numerous studies. CDC Bethune garnered the Seed of the Year - West award in 2012.  A recent economic assessment the CDC conducted of its plant breeding program showed at $6 return to the farmer for every $1 the CDC invested in flax development (Drs. John Groenewegen, Shelley Thompson, Richard Gray, Economic Impact of the Crop Development Centre, Final Report, November 2016). This return on investment could grow with increased flax acres and wider adoption of newer genetics by Canadian producers.

In 2009, following Dr. Rowland's retirement, Helen Booker was appointed as the Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program (SRP) Chair for Flax Breeding and Genetics.  Dr. Booker has carried on the flax improvement work at the CDC and has introduced several new projects.

CDC Flax Group 2016

CDC Flax Group, Spring 2016

Megan House scoring flowering epimutant Recombinant Inbred Line (RIL) population grown as hillplots at KCRF 2016

Dr. Megan House, scoring flowering of hillplots epimutant Recombinant Inbred Line (RIL) population grown at Kernen Crop Research Farm

Mrs. Shannon Froese demonstrating how to hybridize (cross) flax