Organic Flax Production in Iowa

April 8, 2009
ICM News

By Kathleen Delate, Departments of Agronomy and Horticulture

Iowa producers interested in raising flax will find valuable information in a new Extension publication, Organic Flax Production in Iowa – PM 2058. The publication by Kathlene Delate, Craig Chase and John Kennicker outlines planting and fertility requirements, variety selection, management issues, harvesting, storage and handling of the crop.

There has been an increased public interest in food grade flaxseed and flaxseed oil because of the high content of omega-3 fatty acids associated with lowering blood cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. In recent years, there has also been a renewed interest in organic flax, grown and processed without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or food processing aids.

BIOWA Nutraceuticals, an organic flaxseed oil crushing facility in Cherokee, opened in 2004 to meet an increasing worldwide demand for the oil. The facility sources organic flax from Iowa farmers and other organic growers. Growers are encouraged to contact the facility directly to assure proper brown flax varieties are planted.

The positive aspects of growing flax include diversifying a farming operation and a favorable economic return if the flax crop meets the specifications for the organic flaxseed oil market.

The trade-offs, however, include weed management for a poorly competitive crop, harvesting issues (purchasing, renting, or locating a custom operator of a swather/wind-rower), and weather (dry conditions can lower yields).

Organic Flax Production in Iowa can be ordered or downloaded from the ISU Extension online store. Further organic grower information can be obtained by visiting the ISU organic agriculture webpage.


Kathleen Delate is an extension organic agriculture specialist. She can be reached by email at or phone 515-294-7069.


Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on April 8, 2009. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.


Kathleen Delate Professor

Dr. Kathleen Delate's current position as a professor and extension organic specialist at Iowa State University is a joint position between the departments of horticulture and agronomy, where she's responsible for research, extension, and teaching in organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is no...