Manitoba-Normandy Flax Variety Comparison

Project Description

Linen flax has been successfully grown in Europe, such as in Normandy, France, to produce long line fibres used in textile and high-value applications such as composite materials. Linen flax is not generally grown in Manitoba and it is unknown how the properties will compare to the Normandy-grown material given that Canada experiences a much shorter and drier growing season. The purpose of the project was to compare the properties of flax grown in Normandy, France and Manitoba, Canada to understand how the typical material grown in France, grows in Manitoba.

Two varieties of linen flax were grown in Normandy, France and both Melita and Portage La Prairie Manitoba in the 2015 growing season. Flax straw from the three locations was sent to a facility in France were it was processed into useable fibre. The fibre was then sent back to the FibreCITY lab, within the Composites Innovation Centre, for testing. Properties tested included tensile strength, crystallinity, moisture sorption and chemical composition. High-resolution images were also taken. The results from the testing were compared between varieties and locations. 

The overall results of the Melita grown flax fibres provided encouraging evidence of the potential of growing traditional European flax varieties in Canada to produce long line fibre for the North American market. Results from the Portage La Prairie material indicated that environmental conditions played a large role in the quality of the fibre. Follow up studies are underway to optimize agronomic practices in Canada to provide more consistent results from location to location. The study is also continuing with 2016 grown materials of the same variety, locations and testing.