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  • Jennifer is a self proclaimed country girl born and raised in Northern California. After joining social media, Jenny met a farmer from North Dakota. She followed her heart all the way to the rural prairies of ND where she is now married to that farmer. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny can be found with a camera in hand capturing the world around her, loves the challenges of bringing culture to the North Dakota prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: jldphotographblog.com.
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Flax Harvest

by Jennifer_Dewey ‎10-02-2014 04:35 PM - edited ‎10-02-2014 05:05 PM

Throughout the year I have been sharing all about our flax crop here at Agriculture.com.

 

The time finally came to harvest our flax. You may recall on the last update, we talked about how to tell if the flax seed is mature. Seed is produced in what is called a boll or small round capsule. A full boll can have up to 10 seeds but typically averages around six to eight. Every bloom that is produced will become a boll with seeds. As the flax matures, it will turn from a green color to a yellow color. The seeds inside the bolls start white and as they mature turn brownish yellow. Flax is ususally deemed fully mature when 90 percent of the bolls turn brown and the stems turn yellow. 

 

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We harvested our flax with a combine (or harvester) with a draper header. A draper header uses a soft canvas-style rolling platform belt (draper) to catch crop. The crop is conveyed on the belt from both ends of the header to the middle, where a third draper pushes it into the feeder house. Draper headers are an alternative to auger-style headers which typically use a large auger which feeds crop to the center where it will enter the combine’s feeder house.

 

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Draper headers have gained favor as a tool to harvest a wide range of crops over a variety of different terrains. I will say my husband and father-in-law are pretty sold on the versatility of this header. 

 

According to their various manufacturers, "they’re able to feed larger volumes of material evenly into combines, resulting in increased combine capacity and more acres harvested per day. And when the cut portion of the crop can be fed evenly into the combine, this also helps improve residue distribution, reduce grain losses and minimize wear and tear on belts and drivelines within the combine itself." 

 

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The flax yielded fairly well despite several growing challenges and some weather challenges. It was certainly exciting to bring a crop of the past back to the farm and I don't think any of us were more proud than Grandpa. At 88 years young, he delighted in seeing a crop he used to grow come back. I got the chance to sit in the tractor with him while he ran the grain cart as he told me stories about how he used to grow and harvest flax. 

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Flax is an important crop to North Dakota with nearly 95 percent of the nation's flax grown solely in the state. During recent years, the United States has been a net importer of flaxseed as the value and market for flaxseed as a healthy food continues to develop.  

 

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As research continues to support flaxseed as a healthy choice for heart health as well as reduced cancer risk, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues and if more farms become interested in bringing flax back. At present, the only flax breeding and genetics program in the U.S. is at the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.  In fact, the program at NDSU is one of only three in the entire United States.

 

To read more about our season growing flax, visit these articles: 

 

 

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