Quality of western Canadian flaxseed 2013

Quality data by province and western Canada

Tables 4 and 5 show detailed information on the quality of top grade western Canadian flaxseed harvested in 2013. Of the flax samples submitted to the Grain Research Laboratory, 97% were graded as No. 1 Canada Western and 3% consisted of No. 2 Canada Western, No. 3 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. Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-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 increasing use of whole and ground flaxseed in cereals and baked goods, and flaxseed oil in salads. Flaxseed is also used in animal feeds, for example, in chicken to produce omega-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 alpha-linolenic acid present in the oil. Alpha-linolenic acid is one of the most important quality factors for industrial use as it is responsible for most of flaxseed oil’s drying properties.

Table 4. Flaxseed, No. 1 Canada Western - Quality data for 2013 harvest survey
Province No. of samples tested Oil contentFootnote1, % Protein contentFootnote 2, % Iodine value
Mean Min. Max. Mean Min. Max. Mean Min. Max.
MB 34 45.6 42.6 48.0 22.4 18.9 27.1 190.6 179.0 200.0
SK 123 46.0 41.3 48.4 20.7 16.4 25.2 189.2 180.0 201.0
AB 13 45.6 41.5 49.2 22.8 20.2 25.8 191.9 182.0 199.0
W. CanadaFootnote3 170 45.9 41.3 49.2 21.2 16.4 27.1 189.7 179.0 201.0
Table 5. Flaxseed, No. 1 Canada Western - Fatty acid composition and free fatty acids content of 2013 harvest survey
Province Number of samples Free fatty acid composition, %Footnote4 Free fatty acids
C16:0 C18:0 C18:1 C18:2 C18:3
MB 34 5.0 3.4 19.1 15.2 56.5 0.17
SK 123 5.2 3.3 19.7 15.1 55.8 0.12
AB 13 5.0 3.7 18.2 14.5 57.7 0.15
W. CanadaFootnote3 170 5.2 3.3 19.5 15.1 56.0 0.13


Footnote 1

Dry matter basis

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Footnote 2

N x 6.25; dry matter basis

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Footnote 3

Mean values are weighted averages based on estimated production by province (Statistics Canada).

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Footnote 4

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)

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