Flax belongs to the genus Linum, one of 10 genera in the family Linaceae. The genus contains more than 100 annual and perennial species. Cultivated flax belongs to the species L. usitatissimum, and its varieties are of two types: one is grown for oil and the other for fiber.
In Canada, at present, oilseed flax is the main commercially produced crop. But there is a growing trend back to natural fibers for both industrial applications and textiles. This trend will only continue as pressures increase to produce materials that are recyclable or decomposable.
As a result, Western Canadian businesses are realizing the value of flax straw, and are developing technologies to handle oilseed straw and produce fiber from it for industrial purposes. The extraction and processing of fiber from existing flax straw residue and the dedicated planting of fiber flax will create new production and value-adding opportunities for Western Canadian flax producers.