Quality of western Canadian flaxseed 2011

Quality of top grades

Tables 4 and 5 show detailed information on the quality of top grade western Canadian flaxseed harvested in 2011. Of the flax samples submitted to the GRL, 98 % were graded as No. 1 Canada Western with the remaining 2% consisting of No. 2 Canada Western and Sample grade. The number of harvest survey samples collected from each province may not represent the actual production or grade distribution. However, there were sufficient samples to provide good quality information for each province. To calculate western Canadian averages, provincial averages are weighted by the Statistics Canada production estimate and an estimate of grade distribution.

Oil and protein content give quantitative estimates of the value of the seed as a source of oil and of the resulting meal as a source of protein for animal feed. α-linolenic acid is an omega-3 (ω-3) fatty acid which literature has shown can play an important role in maintaining good health in humans and animals. It is the main factor for the increase use of whole and ground flaxseed in cereals and baked goods, and flaxseed oil in salads. Flax seeds are also used in animal feeds, for example in chicken to produce ω-3 eggs. Iodine value is a measure of the overall unsaturation of the oils and can be calculated from the fatty acid composition. Oils with higher iodine values, i.e., with more unsaturation, polymerize more rapidly in the presence of air. In flax, iodine value is directly related to the amount of α-linolenic acid present in the oil. α-linolenic acid is one of the most important quality factor for industrial use as it is this fatty acid, which is responsible for most of flaxseed oil's drying properties.

Quality data, 2011

Table 4. Flaxseed, No. 1 Canada Western - Quality data for 2011 harvest survey
Province No. of samples tested Oil content1, % Protein content2, % Iodine value
Mean Min. Max. Mean Min. Max. Mean Min. Max.
1 Dry matter basis
2 N x 6,25; dry matter basis
3 Mean values are weighted averages based on estimated production by province (Statistics Canada)
MB 42 45.4 41.3 48.5 22.6 18.4 26.9 192.2 184.3 209.9
SK 115 46.1 41.8 49.5 21.6 17.4 25.7 192.4 182.7 209.0
AB 16 46.2 43.0 47.7 22.1 19.2 24.8 193.8 189.2 197.7
W. Canada3 173 45.9 41.3 49.5 21.9 17.4 26.9 192.5 182.7 209.9
Table 5. Flaxseed, No. 1 Canada Western - Fatty acid composition and free fatty acids content of 2011 harvest survey
Province Number of samples Free fatty acid composition, %1 Free fatty acids
C16:0 C18:0 C18:1 C18:2 C18:3
1 Percentage of total fatty acids in the oil including palmitic (C16:0), stearic (C18:0), oleic (C18:1), linoleic (C18:2), and linolenic (C18:3)
2 Mean values are weighted averages based on estimated production by province (Statistics Canada)
MB 42 5.1 3.4 18.0 15.1 57.5 0.26
SK 115 5.1 3.4 17.9 15.1 57.6 0.16
AB 16 5.0 3.5 17.4 15.0 58.4 0.10
W. Canada2 173 5.1 3.4 17.9 15.1 57.6 0.20

Comparison harvest survey quality data with recent export shipments

Table 6 compares the quality of recent flaxseed exports with this year's harvest survey data. The harvest survey data are from producer samples that have been cleaned to remove dockage, while recent exports of flaxseed from Thunder Bay and Vancouver contained from 0.8% to 7.7% dockage. Dockage will affect quality factors such as oil content, iodine value and free fatty acids. Flaxseed exports containing over 2.5% dockage are considered not commercially clean.

Table 6. Flaxseed, No. 1 Canada Western - Comparison of 2011 harvest survey quality data with recent export shipments
Quality parameter 2011 survey 2011 exports
1 Dry matter basis
2 N x 6.25; dry matter basis
Oil content1, % 45.5 43.9
Protein content2, % 21.9 20.1
Free fatty acids, % 0.2 0.5
Iodine value 192.5 193.5
Palmitic acid, % in oil 5.1 5.1
Stearic acid, % in oil 3.4 3.2
Oleic acid, % in oil 17.9 17.5
Linoleic acid, % in oil 15.1 15.7
α-Linolenic acid, % in oil 57.6 57.8
Number of samples 173 10