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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #309558

Title: Irrigation and cultivar effect on flax fiber and seed yield in the southeast USA

item Bauer, Philip
item Stone, Kenneth - Ken
item FOULK, JONN - Fx - Fibers Llc
item DODD, ROY - Retired Non ARS Employee

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/21/2014
Publication Date: 1/14/2015
Citation: Bauer, P.J., Stone, K.C., Foulk, J.A., Dodd, R.B. 2015. Irrigation and cultivar effect on flax fiber and seed yield in the southeast USA. Industrial Crops and Products. 67:7-10.

Interpretive Summary: Flax is a winter crop in the Southeast USA that can be harvested for fiber, grain, or both. There are two types of flax cultivars. Fiber-type cultivars generally have lower seed yield but higher straw yields than seed-type cultivars. We conducted this field experiment to determine how irrigation and cultivar type influence grain and fiber yield. Our three years of data indicate that irrigation is likely to be of limited value for fiber production when the straw is harvested in mid-spring prior to the crop being mature. Irrigation is likely to be of more value for producers growing the crop for grain yield. We also found that a high straw yield cultivar is a potential alternative to the fiber-type cultivars when harvest for straw (and thus fiber) is done in early spring. These results will be used by individuals in the flax fiber industry, extension personnel, and other agricultural advisors in developing production practices for farmers.

Technical Abstract: Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is a potential winter crop for the Southeast USA that can be grown for both seed and fiber. The objective of this research was to evaluate the effect of irrigation on flax straw, fiber, and seed yield of fiber-type and seed-type cultivars at different flax growth stages. The study was conducted during the winter growing seasons of 2010/2011, 2011/2012, and 2012/2013 near Florence, South Carolina. Four fiber-type cultivars and one seed-type cultivar were grown with and without irrigation for two years. The four fiber-types were evaluated for straw and fiber yield in the third year. Soil water was monitored to trigger irrigations. Irrigation was applied before all four harvests in 2010/2011, before only the last harvest in 2011/2012, and was not applied in 2012/2013. Straw harvests were made at the onset of flowering, 10 days past the onset of flowering, and 20 days past the onset of flowering. Straw and seed harvests were made when seeds were mature. In 2010/2011, plots had to be replanted in February so crop development was delayed. Irrigation increased straw yield at the last three harvests in that year. In the other two years, when planting occurred at normal times in the fall, irrigation did not influence straw or fiber yield. Irrigation had no significant effect on seed yield. The fiber-type cultivars did not differ for straw or fiber yield. At the onset of flowering harvest, the seed-type cultivar had similar fiber content to the fiber-type cultivars. The fiber-type cultivars had higher fiber content in later harvests. The results support previous research in that fiber-type cultivars appear viable for production as fiber winter crops in the region. The results also suggest that high straw yielding seed-type cultivars could be used, especially in systems with early straw harvests.