Linseed, also known as common flax or linseed, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. Textiles made from flax are known in the Western countries as linen, and traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen.
Flax can be utilized in many small grain and corn rotations as a potential cover crop or fiber/oil crop. Compared to other common crops, overall nutrient demand is lower and very little nitrogen is needed. Vegetative growth normally requires 50 days before flowering occurs but after this flowering can last 2-4 weeks.
Flax can be utilized as a green manure if terminated early enough but take caution if attempting to cut too late as lignin/cellulose content increase with maturity and would hamper decomposition. Nearly 95% of the water flax extracts from the soil is in the top 60 cm to 90 cm because of its shallow root structure.
This species is an excellent companion crop next to other species in an early season mixture. Flax is generally a self-pollinated crop but pollinating insects are attracted to the various blue/purple colors of the flowers. Because flax is a broadleaf species, most diseases associated with it will not transfer over and cause infection to corn, soybeans, or wheat with the exception of powdery mildew and rhizoctonia after legumes.