record acreage in Europe in the face of growing demand

record acreage in Europe in the face of growing demand

This year, 180,000 hectares of flax will be grown in Europe. An increase of 20% on the previous year, but above all an area 10% larger than the previous record of 163,000 set in 2020. The reasons for this are strong demand and disappointing harvests over the last four years.


This figure, produced by the European Linseed and Hemp Alliance (formerly CELC), comes after spring sowing took place later than usual due to heavy spring rainfall. In calculating the area planted, spring flax is added to winter flax, which was planted in late autumn rather than spring.

“To date, yields in terms of volume and fibre quality have not been defined, as the agricultural cycle is still in its early stages,” says the Alliance. “What’s more, long fibre yields (used for clothing) from different harvests have varied almost threefold over the last ten years, depending on the weather conditions over the hundred or so days that the flax cycle lasts, from sowing to harvest, as well as over the retting period (separation of the stalk and the fibre).”

This naturally raises the question of price, which is being pushed up by strong demand and the disappointing harvests of recent seasons. In March, the average price for all qualities and regions of European Flax fibre was €9.08 per kilo. That’s an increase of 55% over one year.

The industry intends to respond to this price challenge through innovation. To improve harvests and supply, the Alliance is working with the agricultural technical institutes Inagro (Belgium) and Arvalis (France). The latter is focusing in particular on genomic research, physiological studies and digital phenotyping tools, says the industry body.

From northern Brittany to the Netherlands, the coastal strip of north-western Europe accounts for three quarters of the world’s flax production. The growing and processing stages are at the heart of the activity of more than 10,000 companies in sixteen countries on the Old Continent.

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