After a 13-year process, a group of plant breeders is introducing a new, brown-seeded flaxseed cultivar that has a higher than average yield compared to other flax cultivars grown in North Dakota, home of nearly all U.S. seed flax production.
Flax seeds are a common health food because of their high levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acid and easy-to-digest proteins. Flax stems can be made into high-quality, plant-based fiber, similar to hemp. Flax is also a feed ingredient for livestock meal.
There are two types of flax seed available on the market: brown and yellow. Both have similar levels of seed oil and omega-3 fatty acid. The yellow is sometimes preferred for “eye appeal,” but it is not as common as the brown type.
Because less breeding research has been put into yellow, the yield is slightly higher in brown-seeded flax cultivars.
The new flaxseed cultivar was bred for seed yield as well as resistance to Fusarium wilt and flax rust diseases by crossing two cultivars back in 2007.
The new cultivar was planted over and over, and throughout the process, researchers monitored characteristics including seed yield, oil content, and visual appeal. Later, they also chose the plants most resistant to some crop diseases. Thirteen years later, the best plants were selected.
The research was published in the Journal of Plant Registrations.
The new flaxseed is named “ND Hammond,” in honor of an influential flax breeder at North Dakota State University who made all crosses to develop the cultivar.
Sufficient seeds will be available for growers to plant in 2020.