Linseed

Elsoms works with the Dutch Linseed and Flax specialist breeder Van de Bilt to develop vareities specifically for UK conditions. Varieties from this programme, such as Brighton, Bilton and Biltstar, have consistently been among the top varieties grown in the UK for many years, whilst new varieties Batsman and Bowler have performed extremely well in HGCA Descriptive List trials.

  • Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

    Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

  • Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

    Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

  • Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

    Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

  • Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

    Elsoms and Van de Bilt Linseed Trials

Plant Breeding

Van de Bilt’s impressive Linseed plant breeding programme was developed as a consequence of its desire to retain its pre-eminent position in the global flax business. In order to remain competitive in rapidly developing markets such as China, it was vital to continue to develop better varieties and the substantial on-going investment in the plant breeding team enabled Van de Bilt to create a bespoke Linseed breeding programme within the Flax breeding operation. Whereas Flax is grown in Northern France and the low countries, the major market for Linseed production is the UK, with the harvested crop then being exported across Europe for crushing to produce oil for a wide range of industrial uses and for inclusion in animal feeds as well as used in food production.

Varieties

Elsoms have been working with van de Bilt for the last 15 years and in that time have seen varieties such as Biltstar and Bilton take 25 – 35% of the market, testament to the success farmers have had whilst growing them. The success of the close co-operation between the two family-owned companies is evident in the strong portfolio of varieties now available to farmers. Batsman is a real step forward, combining a very high yield with early maturity. Bowler has attracted attention from growers in the south-west looking for an early variety with a good yield and reduced stem fibre content.

Why Grow Linseed ?

Linseed is seeing an increase in popularity as many arable farmer take a long hard look at their crop rotations in the struggle to produce agronomy programmes to counter the increasing problems caused by black grass. Including Linseed in the rotation provides a number of benefits for Arable Farmers. Firstly the late drilling time of mid March to mid April allows a  large window in which to fit autumn and spring  cultivations and herbicide applications  Compared to cereals, linseed allows greater control of grass and  broad leaved weeds in the growing crop, whilst desiccating the crop immediately prior to harvest further improves this effect. Although not a brassica like OSR, a Linseed break crop has acquired a reputation for contributing to excellent yields in following wheat crops, a benefit attributed to an improvement in soil structure resulting from its vigorous rooting habit.

Sowing

Ideally, Linseed should be sown from mid March to mid April when conditions are suitable to allow a rapid establishment of the crop, although growers have had success when planting as late as early May. Achieving  rapid establishment is key objective  in realising the potential provided by Linseed, particularly in the light of the neonicotinoid seed treatment ban. Seed should ideally be drilled at the correct depth into a warm, well prepared seed bed and should be rolled after drilling. Drilling too deep or too early can significantly delay emergence. Typically seed rate of approx 650 seeds/m2 are used equating to 18 to 24 kgs/acre depending on the seed. With the loss of neonicotinoid dressings growers may consider using higher rates to compensate for plant losses due to flea beetle. Linseeds' broad sowing window produces a wide range of potential seed bed conditions with the result that growers should take advice from their agronomist as to what seed rate suits their individual circumstances. Like oilseed rape however, Linseed can compensate well and  thin crops can often produce good yields.  

Fertiliser

Linseed responds well to nitrogen and has low requirement for P & K. It is important not to use too much fertiliser as this can cause lodging and delay ripening. As with seed rates, growers should take advice from their agronomist regarding their crops individual requirements.

Crop Protection

It is important to suppress weeds as Linseed is not competitive until the plant is well established. Keeping a clean crop will contribute to ease of harvesting by allowing the crop to mature quickly and will also allow a desiccant to to work efficiently. In the abscence of neonicotinoid seed treatments farmers should consult their agronomists about the best strategy for protecting the emerging crop with pyretheroid sprays.

Harvesting

Before harvesting crops should be fully desiccated to hasten ripening and to reduce potential problems with poor cutter effectiveness. Newer varieties such as Brighton, Batsman and Bowler are far less likely to be difficult to harvest than more traditional varieties.  

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