Quality of western Canadian flaxseed 2015

Quality data by province and western Canada

Tables 4 and 5 show detailed information on the quality of top grade western Canadian (CW) flaxseed harvested in 2015. Of the flaxseed samples submitted to the Grain Research Laboratory, 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 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 (Flax Council of Canada). It is the main factor in the increased 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 oil and can be calculated from the fatty acid composition. Oils with higher iodine values, that is, with more unsaturation, polymerize more rapidly in the presence of air. In flaxseed, 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 2015 harvest
Province Number of samples tested Oil contentFootnote 1, % Protein contentFootnote 2, % Iodine value
Mean Min. Max. Mean Min. Max. Mean Min. Max.
Manitoba 37 44.7 40.6 47.7 23.5 18.8 26.1 190.1 182.5 203.5
Saskatchewan 215 45.7 42.5 49.6 22.2 18.0 26.5 191.6 176.3 201.6
Alberta 39 45.9 41.7 49.1 23.7 17.7 26.2 191.9 181.9 198.4
Western CanadaFootnote 3 291 45.7 40.6 49.6 22.5 17.7 26.5 191.5 176.3 203.5
Table 5. Flaxseed, No. 1 Canada Western - Fatty acid composition and free fatty acids content of 2015 harvest
Province Number of samples Free fatty acid composition, %Footnote 4 Free fatty acids
C16:0 C18:0 C18:1 C18:2 C18:3
Manitoba 37 5.0 3.8 18.9 14.9 56.5 0.4
Saskatchewan 215 5.0 3.4 18.9 14.5 57.4 0.2
Alberta 39 5.0 3.5 18.2 15.3 57.2 0.2
Western CanadaFootnote 3 291 5.0 3.5 18.8 14.6 57.2 0.2


Footnote 1

Dry matter basis

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

N x 6.25; dry matter basis

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

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

Return to first footnote 3 referrer

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)

Return to footnote 4 referrer